If you’ve been pregnant, you probably have gotten an ultrasound. Have you ever wondered what else ultrasounds are used for, how they work and what they do? We will break it down for you. Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to make images of organs and structures inside the body. A computer receives the waves and uses them to create a picture. Also, unlike with an x-ray or CT scan, this test does not use ionizing radiation.
We will start with the traditional pregnancy ultrasound. Obstetricians use it to assess the fetus during pregnancy. This is the test used to determine the baby’s due date and their gender. Surgeons and emergency physicians use ultrasound at the bedside to assess abdominal pain or other concerns. Urologists use ultrasounds to measure blood flow through the kidney, see kidney stones, and to detect prostate cancer early. Lastly, they can be used to find tumors of the ovary and breasts.
How It Works:
The test is done in an ultrasound or radiology department. You will lie down for the test. Next, a clear, water-based gel is applied to the skin on the area to be examined. The gel helps with the transmission of the sound waves. A handheld probe called a transducer is moved over the area being examined. You may need to change position so that other areas can be examined. This will create an image called a sonogram.
What They Do:
As mentioned before, the test relies on sound. Using their understanding of human anatomy and the machine, the technician can evaluate specific structures and try to answer the question asked by the patient's physician. The only limitation of using sound waves to create an image is that they have a short range so for obese patients it is more difficult. With an ultrasound, you will be on your way to checking for a possible health problem or just making sure the pregnancy is going well.
Hopefully this helps clear up some of the misconceptions about ultrasounds. They aren’t just used for pregnancy and they are nothing to be afraid of! If you need an ultrasound, schedule an appointment with us!