What is ultrasound?
An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of the inside of the body. It is suitable for use during pregnancy. It scans are safe because they use sound waves or echoes to create an image, rather than radiation. It scans are used to assess fetal development and can detect problems in the liver, heart, kidneys, or abdomen. They can also help perform certain types of biopsy.
How do you capture the image?
The ultrasound passes through the blood into the heart chamber, for example, if it touches the heart valve, it will resonate or recover. If there are no gallstones, it goes straight through the gallbladder, but if there are stones, it bounces back. The ultrasound touches the object densely and bounces off. This bounce, or resonance, gives the image its properties. Different shades of gray reflect different densities.
Ultrasound transducers: The transducer or wand is normally placed on the surface of the patient’s body, but some types are placed internally. These can provide clearer and more informative images.
- An endovaginal transducer, for use in the vagina
- An endorectal transducer, for customers in the rectum
- A transesophageal transducer, which is passed down the patient’s throat for use in the esophagus
- Some very small transducers can be attached to the end of a catheter and inserted into blood vessels to examine the walls of the blood vessels
Why is an ultrasound done?
Most people associate ultrasounds with pregnancy. These scans can give the expectant mother the first sight of her unborn child. However, the test has many other uses. Your doctor may order it if you have pain, swelling, or other symptoms that require an internal view of your organs. It can provide a view of:
- Brain (in babies)
- Blood vessels
It is also a useful way to guide surgeons’ movements during certain medical procedures, such as biopsies.
Preparation for an ultrasound
The steps you will need to take to prepare for an ultrasound will depend on the area or organ being examined. Your doctor may tell you to fast for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure, especially if your abdomen is being examined. Undigested food can block sound waves, making it difficult for the technician to get a clear picture.
For an exam of your gallbladder, liver, pancreas, or spleen, you may be instructed to eat a fat-free meal the night before the test and then fast until the procedure. However, you can continue to drink water and take any medication as directed. For other tests, you may be asked to drink plenty of water and hold your urine so your bladder is full and better viewed.
Be sure to tell your doctor about any prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal supplements you take before the exam. It carries minimal risks. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, ultrasounds do not use radiation. For this reason, they are the preferred method of examining a developing fetus during pregnancy.
Types of ultrasound
Most ultrasounds are done with a transducer on the surface of the skin. Occasionally, however, doctors and technicians can get a better diagnostic image by inserting a special transducer into one of the body’s natural openings:
- In a transvaginal ultrasound, a transducer is placed in a woman’s vagina to get better images of her uterus and ovaries
- Sometimes a transrectal ultrasound is used to diagnose diseases of the prostate
- A transesophageal echocardiogram uses the transducer probe into the esophagus so the sonographer can obtain clearer images of the heart
Furthermore, ultrasound technology has advanced to allow different types of images:
- Doppler is a special sort of ultrasound that creates images of blood flow through vessels
- Bone ultrasound helps doctors diagnose osteoporosis
- Echocardiograms are used to view the heart
- 3D images add an extra dimension to the ultrasound image, creating three-D renderings instead of the flat, two-dimensional images that are made with traditional ultrasound
- 4D ultrasounds show moving 3D images
Benefits of ultrasound
- They are generally painless and do not require needles, injections, or incisions
- Patients are not unprotected from ionizing radiation, making the technique safer than diagnostic techniques such as X-rays and CT scans. In datum, there are no identified harmful effects when used as directed by your healthcare provider
- Ultrasound detentions images of soft tissues that do not show up fine on x-rays
- Ultrasounds are widely nearby and less expensive than other approaches
Why do I need an ultrasound?
You may essential an ultrasound if you are pregnant. No radiation is used in the test. It offers a safe way to monitor the health of your unborn baby.
You may need a diagnostic ultrasound if you have symptoms in certain organs or tissues. These contain the heart, kidneys, thyroid, gallbladder, and womanly reproductive system. You may also need an ultrasound if you are having a biopsy. It helps your healthcare provider get a clear picture of the area being examined.
During an ultrasound
An ultrasound usually includes the following steps:
- You will lie on a table, exposing the area that is being viewed
- A healthcare provider will spread a special gel on the skin in that area
- The breadwinner will move a wand-like device, called a transducer, over the area
- The device sends sound waves to your body. The waves are so high that you can’t hear them
- The waves are recorded and converted into images on a monitor
- You may be able to view the images as they are created. This often happens during a pregnancy ultrasound, which allows you to observe your unborn baby
- After the test is complete, the provider will clean the gel from your body
- The test takes 30 and 60 minutes to complete
In some cases, a pregnancy ultrasound can be done by inserting the transducer into the vagina. This is most often done in early pregnancy.