Ultrasound imaging uses high-frequency sound waves to produce a picture of the inside of a body part. Physicians use ultrasound, or sonography, to diagnose lumps and abnormalities. This imaging technique is most widely known for its use in examining babies in the womb. Physicians also use ultrasound to gather richer information about potential disease or to guide a biopsy. Radiology & Imaging offers ultrasound studies of the abdomen, kidneys, thyroid, pelvis, breast and leg veins.
Radiology & Imaging uses high-resolution state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment, which provides outstanding detail. Our talented and experienced ultrasound technologists are trained to provide high-quality, compassionate care to our patients.
How Ultrasound Works
Ultrasound works like sonar. A sound wave strikes an object and echoes or bounces back. Measuring these echo waves enables the ultrasound machine to create a picture of the object’s size, shape and consistency. A Doppler ultrasound study may be part of an ultrasound exam. The Doppler technique can evaluate blood velocity as it flows through a blood vessel, including the body’s major arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs and neck.
Why Physicians Use Ultrasound
Few other exams are as quick, inexpensive, painless and medically revealing as ultrasound. This noninvasive (no cutting, no injection) scanning exam gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-rays. The exam provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures like biopsies and aspirations.
Your physician can use general ultrasound imaging to check the health of your kidneys, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, heart, spleen, uterus, eyes, thyroid, blood vessels and many other body parts. Physicians use general ultrasound to evaluate the causes of pain, swelling and infection. Ultrasound exams can also help assess organ damage following an illness or diagnose a variety of conditions including:
- Abdominal pain or distention
- Abnormal liver function
- Enlarged abdominal organ
- Stones in the gallbladder or kidney
- An aneurysm in the aorta
Your physician may use ultrasound to guide procedures like as needle biopsies – a procedure in which a small needle extracts sample cells from an abnormal area for testing. Or Doppler ultrasound may be the best way for your physician to see and diagnose a heart condition like a blockage, a narrowing of vessels or a tumor.
Preparing For Your Ultrasound Exam
Please wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. To get a detailed picture, the machine needs a clear view of your skin. During a portion of the exam, you will need to remove all clothing on the part of your body that is being examined. You may be asked to wear a gown.
What The Ultrasound Exam Is Like
For most exams, you will lie on your back on an exam table that can tilt and move. The technologist applies a clear water-based gel to the area of your body being studied. The gel helps the machine’s transducer make secure contact with your body. It also eliminates air pockets. The ultrasound technologist presses the transducer firmly against your skin and sweeps it over the study area. You can expect an ultrasound exam to take from 30 minutes to an hour.
In some ultrasound studies, the technologist attaches the transducer to a probe that travels through a natural opening in the body. For example, in a transesophageal echocardiogram, the transducer travels into the esophagus to obtain images of the heart.
Benefits & Risks
Standard diagnostic ultrasound has no known harmful effects and numerous benefits. In the vast majority of cases, ultrasound:
- Causes no health problems
- Is noninvasive (no needles or injections)
- Does not expose you to any radiation
- Is painless
- Gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-rays
- Is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods
- May be repeated as often as necessary
- Is the preferred imaging modality for the diagnosis and monitoring of pregnant women and unborn babies
- Provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and needle aspiration
Limits of Ultrasound
Ultrasound waves are disrupted by air or gas. That makes it less than ideal for imaging the bowel or organs hidden by the bowel. Large patients are more difficult to image with ultrasound. Their tissue weakens the sound waves as they pass deeper into the body. Also, Ultrasound does not penetrate bone so it only provides a view of the outer surface of bony structures and not what lies within.
We Subspecialize In Reading Ultrasounds
Radiology & Imaging uses high-resolution, state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment. The diagnostic detail our equipment provides is exceptional. Having a radiologist, like ours, who subspecializes in reading ultrasound images means more expertise and experience is at work for you.
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