What is an Ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a common, noninvasive diagnostic tool that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce dynamic images (sonograms) of organs and tissues inside the body. Doppler ultrasound evaluation may also be a part of an ultrasound study and can evaluate blood flow through a vessel (e.g. arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs and neck). Unlike CAT scans and X-rays, ultrasound does not use radiation, and therefore is safe during pregnancy.
Why Would I Need an Ultrasound?
AI3 offers a full array of ultrasound examinations to evaluate and diagnose abdominal, gynecological, obstetrical, fetal, pediatric, thyroid, breast, scrotal, prostate and musculoskeletal conditions, as well as vascular pathology. For pregnancy, ultrasound can help determine gestational age and evaluate anatomical development. It is also used to screen for the risk of Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities in the first trimester.
Additionally, ultrasound may be used to perform image-guided intervention, such as biopsies, aspirations and drainages. AI3 conducts ultrasound-guided biopsies for liver, thyroid, pancreas, kidney, lymph nodes, salivary glands, and abdominal masses. Drainage procedures are performed for cyst aspiration and abdominal and chest fluid collections.
What to Expect
Equipment for an ultrasound consists of a console containing a computer and electronics, a video display screen and a transducer, which is a small, hand-held device used to scan the body. The transducer distributes high frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the return echo from the tissues in the body. This return echo is used to form the ultrasound image, which is immediately visible on the computer screen.
Patients lie on an examining table that may be tiled with the head up. A clear gel is applied to the area of the body being studied to enable sound waves to travel between the transducer and the patient. The transducer is held firmly by the sonographer or radiologist and moved over the area of interest. Once the examination is complete, patients may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed. Most ultrasound examinations are conducted within 30 to 45 minutes.
At the AI3 center, patients are seen by dedicated, fellowship-trained radiologists, who are some of the finest in the field. They maintain a close rapport with referring physicians and are sensitive to the patients’ concerns, taking care to explain each procedure that will be performed. Plus our technical staff of registered diagnostic medical sonographers ensures that patients are at ease during examinations.
Diagnostic ultrasound, also called sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, is an imaging method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce relatively precise images of structures within your body. The images produced during an ultrasound examination often provide valuable information for diagnosing and treating a variety of diseases and conditions.
Most ultrasound examinations are done using a sonar device outside of your body, though some ultrasound examinations involve placing a device inside your body.
You may need to undergo an ultrasound for a variety of reasons. Ultrasound may be used, for example, to:
- Assess a fetus
- Diagnose gallbladder disease
- Evaluate flow in blood vessels
- Guide a needle for biopsy or tumor treatment
- Evaluate a breast lump
- Check your thyroid gland
- Study your heart
- Diagnose some forms of infection
- Diagnose some forms of cancer
- Reveal abnormalities in the genitalia and prostate
- Evaluate abnormalities of the muscles and tendons