Ultrasounds are diagnostic imaging tools that utilize sound waves to produce images of the body’s internal structures. Also called sonography, ultrasounds work by emitting a high-frequency sounds and then uses information from the sound echoes to determine size, shape, and consistency of the soft tissues. Ultrasounds are widely-available, painless, and less expensive than other imaging methods.

Did you Know?

Ultrasounds are one of the only imaging techniques that have no risks. Unlike other commonly used imaging methods, ultrasounds do not use radiation to obtain images. This is one of the reasons why they are so commonly used for the diagnosis and monitoring of pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need an ultrasound?

Ultrasounds have many medical applications including monitoring pregnancy, guiding biopsies, diagnosing various medical conditions, and assessing damage to the body. If you are experiencing pain, swelling, or other symptoms that could indicate an issue with your internal organs, your doctor may request an ultrasound. Ultrasounds can be used to view the following internal structures: bladder, infant brain, eyes, gallbladder, kidneys, liver, ovaries, pancreas, spleen, thyroid, testicles, uterus, and blood vessels.

What can I expect during an ultrasound?

Depending on the type of ultrasound you are having, you may be asked to fast before your ultrasound to prevent undigested food from blocking sound waves and distorting the results. During your ultrasound, you can expect to be lying down on a bed. The ultrasound technician, or sonographer, will rub a ultrasound transducer over your skin around the affected area. A lubricating jelly is used to to reduce friction and help transmit soundwaves, and light pressure may be applied to get more precise readings.

As the transducer is rubbed across your skin, it will be transmitting high frequency sound waves and an image will be produced on the sonographer’s monitor. Because the sound is high-pitched, you will not be able to hear it. Usually ultrasounds last about 30 minutes.

Will I need to follow any special instructions after undergoing an ultrasound?

After your ultrasound is over, the sonographer will clean the lubricating jelly off your skin and you will be free to return to normal activities. You will need to schedule a follow up appointment with your doctor so they can look over the images and discuss any findings. In some cases, additional imaging techniques such as a CT scan or a MRI may be needed.