What is an ultrasound?
Ultrasound scanning, also called "ultrasound imaging" or "sonography," is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high-frequency sound waves. The sound waves are recorded and displayed as a live image.
Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show movement of internal tissues and organs, and enable physicians to see blood flow.
Ultrasounds are used for a variety of reasons, one of the most common being during pregnancy to obtain pictures of a baby in the womb. Other types of ultrasound include:
- Abdominal Doppler
- Renal transplant
- Evaluation of the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and blood vessels of the abdomen
- Rule out masses and aneurysms
There are a number of specialized exams ultrasounds are used for:
- Breast-Thyroid biopsies
- Extensive diagnostic OB
- Soft tissue biopsies
Because ultrasounds provide real-time images, they can also be used to:
- Guide procedures such as needle biopsies, in which a needle is used to sample cells from an organ for laboratory testing.
- Help a physician determine the source of abdominal pain, such as stones in the gallbladder or appendix, or an inflamed appendix.
- Help identify the cause of enlargement of the abdominal organ.
Doppler Ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound study that is used in the examination of major blood vessels. These images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
- Blockages to blood flow, such as clots
- Build-up of plaque inside the vessel
- Congenital malformations
With knowledge about the speed and volume of blood flow gained from ultrasound imaging, the physician often can determine whether you are a good candidate for a procedure such as angioplasty.