Ultrasound imaging provides physicians with valuable data that facilitates the accurate diagnosis of various health conditions. We perform ultrasounds to also monitor the status of existing conditions as well.
What Is Ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a form of diagnostic imaging. The sound waves that enable us to capture images of internal structures are too high to be heard by the human ear. Therefore, the frequencies emit an echo off of organs and other tissues, providing a clear image for interpretation by a radiologist. Sound frequency also produces an image or sonogram.
For instance, a doctor may use an ultrasound to determine if gallstones exist in the gallbladder. If stones are present, sound waves will echo back after “hitting” them. This will show on the monitor for the technologist to record. A radiologist interprets the sonograms and provides a written report to the referring physician.
What Is Ultrasound Used For?
We use ultrasound to identify abdominal, kidney, heart, or liver conditions. It may detect tumors and other abnormal masses and may assess changes in organ contours, size, or appearance.
Most ultrasound examinations do not usually require any preparation, but this can vary depending on the examination location. For instance, if we are performing a renal ultrasound, the patient needs to drink 750 mL of water one hour before the ultrasound. For aorta or leg artery examinations, we will require that the patient fasts for 8 hours prior to the ultrasound. We will inform you if your ultrasound merits any preparation.
For most ultrasound examinations, the patient is lying face-up in a comfortable position. If necessary for higher-quality images, the patient turns to one side or the other.
After the patient is in the proper position, a water-based gel is applied to the skin. This enables the sonographer to maintain contact with the body in order to successfully direct sound waves to the appropriate area. A transducer, which is a small handpiece, is set into the gel. The doctor moves it across the target site to capture the images. Only slight pressure is necessary to maintain contact between the handpiece and the skin. It is typically a painless procedure. In some situations, mild tenderness may occur. Once the radiologist records the images, he or she will wipe the skin clean and the patient is free to leave the facility.
Ultrasound may be performed in a number of ways. Above is the standard procedure. In some instances, it is with a different probe rather than the conventional handpiece. This type of imaging may also include transvaginal ultrasound. The doctor sanitizes and covers a probe to insert into the vaginal cavity. This is to attain a closer look at the pelvic organs.
Preparation may be necessary for your exam. Please contact our facility to inquire.
How Long Does an Ultrasound Take?
For the most part, an ultrasound examination usually takes around 30 minutes.
Types of Ultrasound
At GO Imaging, we provide high-quality traditional ultrasound. This analyzes internal organs for size, texture, or abnormalities. It can look at masses, cysts, or nodules. We also offer Doppler Ultrasound.
Doppler is a technique that evaluates blood vessels. Various types of Doppler ultrasound enable clinicians to:
- Measure data such as the direction and speed of blood flow through vessels.
- Measure blood flow in detail, including distance traveled per second (or other units of time).
“Duplex Ultrasound” is a mixture of both traditional and Doppler.
Benefits of Ultrasound
Our care team assists referring physicians with their patient-care needs. Overall, we offer the necessary information to ascertain the most appropriate imaging technique for the objective. Reasons that physicians may choose ultrasound imaging over other techniques include:
- Soft-tissue may be clearer against ultrasound than x-ray.
- Ultrasound is an optimal imaging technique for pregnant women.
- The real-time imaging through ultrasound makes it well-suited to medical procedures.
- Patient comfort is high
- Most ultrasounds are complete within 30 to 60 minutes.
- Blood flow velocity can be seen in real time and documented using ultrasound.
- Patients can resume normal activity immediately following ultrasound.
Risks of Ultrasound
Because ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to produce its images, there aren’t any risks involved. Sound waves don’t have negative impacts on the body.
Accuracy of Ultrasound Exams
Generally speaking, ultrasounds provide excellent imaging of the soft tissues in the body, without the corresponding risks associated with imaging that uses radiation. We can also use ultrasound with patient movement, unlike static imaging, so it is very valuable when looking at musculoskeletal, gynecological, and vascular issues. Ultrasound is the best option for documenting blood flow velocity.