What is Ultrasound Imaging?
Ultrasound imaging, also called sonography, is a method of obtaining diagnostic images from inside the human body through the use of high frequency sound waves. Utrasonography is used as a diagnostic tool that can assist doctors with making recommendations for further treatment.
The technology is similar to that used by sonar and radar, which help the military detect planes and ships. An ultrasound allows your doctor to see problems with organs, vessels, and tissues without needing to make an incision.
Unlike other imaging techniques, ultrasound uses no radiation. For this reason, it’s the preferred method for viewing a developing fetus during pregnancy.
What are some common uses of Ultrasound?
- Viewing an unborn fetus.
- Examining many of the body’s internal organs, including the heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder.
- Show movement of internal tissues and organs, enable physicians to see blood flow and heart valve functions.
- Used to guide procedures such as needle biopsies.
- Image the breast and to guide biopsy of breast cancer.
- Evaluate superficial structures, such as the thyroid gland and scrotum (testicles).
What should I expect during this procedure?
The examination usually takes less than 30 minutes. After being positioned on the exam table, a clear gel is applied in the area being examined. This helps the transducer make contact with the skin. The technologist firmly presses the transducer against the skin and moves it back and forth to image the area of interest.
Generally, the technologist is able to review the ultrasound images in real-time or, when the examination is complete and the gel is wiped off, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed, either on film or monitor.
How should I prepare for an Ultrasound?
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
- Depending on the type of ultrasound exam you have, you will be asked:
- Not to eat or drink for up to 12 hours before your appointment, or
- Drink up to six glasses of water two hours prior to your exam and avoid urinating. This will ensure a full bladder when the exam begins.
What will I experience during the procedure?
Most ultrasound exams are painless. The gel applied to your skin may be a bit cold and there may be varying degrees of discomfort and pressure as the technologist guides the transducer over your abdomen, especially if you are required to have a full bladder.
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