What Is It?
An ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the body. Ultrasounds typically use what is called a transducer, a device placed directly on the skin that conducts the sound waves that are then reflected back and transferred into images on a monitor. As sound waves are used to produce the image vs radiation, it is a very safe study, widely utilized in monitoring pregnancy for that reason. It can be useful in diagnosing unexplained pain or swelling as well as targeting areas of tissue for biopsies. Ultrasound imaging has expanded significantly to cover a broad range of uses in diagnosis and treatment.
Examples of procedures include:
A thyroid ultrasound looks at the thyroid gland in the neck via a small transducer. These exams do not use radiation. You may be referred for this exam to check for normal thyroid function and appearance or to examine if there are patchy areas, nodules, or tumors. If necessary, the radiologist can perform a fine needle aspiration biopsy under ultrasound guidance to obtain a tissue sample for viewing under a microscope.
Obstetric ultrasounds are able to produce pictures of an embryo or fetus within a pregnant woman. They can also produce images of a woman’s ovaries and uterus. This study involves a small transducer with gel used directly on the skin or, often in the case of early pregnancy, a wand used transvaginally. Throughout pregnancy, ultrasound imaging can be used to evaluate and track fetal growth. Additionally, it can be used to determine the cause of vaginal bleeding or other complications.
- Prostate ultrasound
- Breast ultrasound
- Ultrasound abdominal aorta screening
- Ultrasound-guided tissue ablation
- Prostate transrectal ultrasound
- Vascular ultrasound.
Before your exam
Plan on wearing loose-fitting clothing that allows for easy access to the area to be examined. For most ultrasounds, you will be sitting or lying down. Be prepared for a warm water-based gel when the transducer comes in contact with your skin. There is no need to fast before an ultrasound.
for your exam
Ultrasounds typically take about 30 minutes from start to finish. There are, however, exams such as vascular ultrasound that could take longer to complete.