Ultrasound

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Liliana Pina, an ultrasound technician with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Support Squadron, conducts a thyroid ultrasound on a simulated patient at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 27, 2009. Pina conducts approximately 200 ultrasounds a month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Hubenthal/Released)

What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is known by many names, including sonogram, sonography and ultrasound imaging. Any of those names refer to the same process that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inner body. Ultrasound energy is generated by soundwaves of 20,000 vibrations/second or greater, far above the frequency which can be detected by the human ear. The ultrasound transducer gives off sound waves which are reflected back from the organs and tissues, producing an electronic picture. Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they are able to show flowing blood and organ or fetal movements.

There is no radiation utilized in obtaining an ultrasound image and it is a completely safe technique. It is best at visualizing “soft tissues”, i.e. abdominal and pelvic organs, blood vessels, thyroid, and pregnancy, rather than other tissues such as bone and lung. Ultrasound is an important tool to aid in the evaluation of abdominal pain, pregnancies, pelvic pain or bleeding in women, scrotal pain in men, lumps in the thyroid gland, blood clots in leg veins, narrowing of arteries in the neck, and many other conditions.

How is Ultrasound Performed?

landscape-1446741950-g-examinations478187269Ultrasound is an easy, noninvasive test for the patient. You will simply lie on a padded table and the ultrasound technologist will begin the examination by applying a clear water-soluble gel to the skin overlying the body part to be examined. The purpose of the gel is to maintain good contact with the skin, as air interferes with the ultrasound signal. The technologist then obtains images of the body in multiple views by moving the transducer over the skin. The examination is comfortable and noninvasive, and no needles or contrast injections are required.
Some examinations, such as abdominal ultrasound, will require you to be in a fasting state. Other examinations, including pelvic and obstetrical ultrasound, will require a full urinary bladder. Our office staff will provide you with detailed instructions for exam preparation when you call to schedule the examination.