What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high-frequency sound waves. The reflected sound wave echoes are recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. No ionizing radiation (x-ray) is involved in ultrasound imaging.

Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body's internal organs, including but not limited to the heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and bladder.

What are some common uses of Ultrasound imaging?

Millions of expectant parents have seen the first "picture" of their unborn child with pelvic ultrasound examinations of the uterus and fetus. Ultrasound imaging is used extensively for evaluating the eyes, pelvic and abdominal organs, heart and blood vessels, and can help a physician determine the source of pain, swelling or infection in many parts of the body. Because ultrasound provides real-time images it can also be used to guide procedures such as needle biopsies, in which needles are used to sample cells from organs for laboratory testing. Ultrasound is now being used to image the breasts and to guide biopsy of breast cancer. Ultrasound is also used to evaluate superficial structures such as the thyroid gland and scrotum.

Doppler ultrasound is a special technique used to examine blood flow. Doppler ultrasound images can help the physician see and evaluate:

  • Blockages to blood flow (such as clots)
  • Narrowing of vessels (which may be caused by plaque)
  • Tumors and congenital malformation

What are the benefits of Ultrasound?

  • It is noninvasive (no needles or injections in most cases) and is usually painless.
  • It is widely available and easy to use.
  • It uses no ionizing radiation and is the preferred image modality for diagnosis and monitoring of pregnant women and their unborn infants.
  • It provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies.
  • Ultrasound images can visualize structure, movement and live function in the body's organs and blood vessels.
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The information in this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. If you have a medical condition consult your doctor.