How does ultrasound work?
Ultrasound is a quick and inexpensive test that uses high frequency sound waves to produce an image of the body. No ionizing radiation is used. A transducer, or probe, that is held by the sonographer produces sound waves that are directed at an organ. Some of the sound is reflected back or passes through the organ, depending on what type of tissue it is made of. The reflected sound is picked up by the transducer and a computer creates an image of the organ. A radiologist, who is a physician specialized in interpreting medical imaging, analyzes the images at a computer, and provides a report to your physician.
Why is my doctor requesting an ultrasound for me?
Ultrasound can be used to scan the abdomen for gallstones, kidney stones, abdominal masses or aneurysms. Ultrasound is a good test to diagnose conditions in the uterus, ovaries, bladder or prostate. It is a good test for superficial organs like the thyroid, breast, lumps or bumps felt on the skin and joints. Ultrasound is very commonly used in obstetrics and can be used to date the pregnancy, check for the well being of the baby and check the baby’s development. Sometimes ultrasound is used for image guidance when invasive procedures are done.
What happens when I get an ultrasound?
You may be required to prepare for the test depending on the type of exam requested (see Patient Preparation). You will lie on a table and an ultrasound technologist will perform your exam. Ultrasound gel will be used to improve the contact between the transducer and your body, and the transducer is scanned over the area of interest using gentle pressure. Sometimes a special transducer is placed inside of the patient to get a close up view of the pelvic organs. The test can take between 30 and 60 minutes. A radiologist, who is a physician specialized in interpreting medical imaging, analyzes the images at a computer, and provides a report to your physician.