One of the safest, most tried-and-true imaging technologies, ultrasound uses sound waves to create images called sonograms. Ultrasound is widely used for observing fetal development in pregnant women, but it may also be used to detect problems in the liver, kidneys, and other abdominal organs.
Because ultrasound doesn’t rely on radiation, it’s perfectly safe for both you and your baby. It’s also pain-free and noninvasive, and it doesn’t require the use of contrast dyes or other solutions or injections.
What to Expect During Your Ultrasound Exam
Quick, convenient and easy, ultrasound exams typically last 20 to 40 minutes. Your technologist will conduct the exam with a transducer, a small handheld device that looks like a wand. They’ll apply the transducer to the body part being examined, along with a gel that helps sound waves pass through your skin. Depending upon the nature of your exam, you may be able to see the images during your exam, on a screen connected to the ultrasound device.
Frequently Asked Questions
One of the safest, most time-tested diagnostic imaging techniques, ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images. These waves are produced by sending electrical energy through certain types of crystals, which vibrate within a probe called a transducer. The sound waves travel from the transducer into a patient’s body, where they are reflected at varying rates from different tissues.
Once the reflected waves arrive back at the transducer, a connected computer converts them into an image called a sonogram. These images offer invaluable information for diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions, and they can be obtained quickly, conveniently, and at low cost.
Yes, but fetal imaging is just one of many applications. Ultrasound can be used to image almost any soft tissue in the body, and it is particularly useful for organs in the abdomen and pelvic region. Many physicians also use ultrasound to observe blood flow in veins and arteries, which allows them to quickly diagnose life-threatening blood clots.
Ultrasound is excellent for distinguishing between fluid and solid structures within the body – an important but surprisingly difficult task for radiologists. Ultrasound also costs significantly less than MRI and CT, and it doesn’t require the use of radiation or contrast agents. Depending upon your condition, ultrasound may be used as a standalone imaging technique, or it may be used to complement the findings of an MRI exam or CT scan.
No, ultrasound does not involve any type of radiation. It uses only high-frequency sound waves, which are not known to have any adverse effects.
Ultrasound preparation varies significantly by exam type and body part. For more information about preparing for your exam, contact your American Health Imaging center for complete instructions.
Ultrasound depends upon the transmission of sound waves, and sound travels better through some substances than others. If you’re undergoing a pelvic exam, a full bladder provides an excellent medium for sound (water). Not all ultrasound exams require a full bladder, however. For complete instructions, consult your doctor, or call your American Health Imaging facility.
Digestion changes the shape and contents of abdominal organs, and eating or drinking too close to your exam may distort your images. Only some ultrasound exams require you to fast, however. For complete instructions, consult your doctor, or call your American Health Imaging center.
Ultrasound is one of the fastest, most convenient imaging techniques, and most exams take just 20 to 40 minutes.
Unfortunately, no. While our ARRT-certified technologists are trained to perform ultrasound exams and collect images, they are not allowed to interpret the results. Our board-certified radiologists will interpret your exam and provide your doctor with a thorough report.
One of our board-certified radiologists will review and interpret your ultrasound results immediately. Your doctor will receive a written report and hardcopy images within 24 hours.