Frequently Asked Questions about Ultrasound

The best known use of diagnostic ultrasound imaging is – as seen in movies and on TV – to show the development of a fetus. But that’s not the only use, as we’ll see in these frequently asked questions about ultrasound.


Frequently Asked Questions about Ultrasound

1.       What is ultrasound?

Diagnostic ultrasound, otherwise known as sonography, is an imaging test that employs high-frequency sound waves (between 2 and 18 MHz) to produce images of internal body structures, as well as evaluate symptoms like pain, swelling, and infections.

2.       How does ultrasound work?

Ultrasound uses the same principle known as sonar that occurs naturally in bats and artificially in ships. Sound waves are sent forth; if they collide with an object, the bounce back. Measuring the echoing waves makes it possible to determine the shape, size, and consistency of the object. Yeah, I don’t understand it either.

3.       Which organs can be examined with ultrasound?

  • Heart and blood vessels, including the abdominal aorta and its major branches.
  • Liver.
  • Gallbladder.
  • Spleen.
  • Pancreas.
  • Kidneys.
  • Bladder.
  • Uterus.
  • Ovaries.
  • Eyes.
  • Thyroid and parathyroid glands.
  • Testicles.
  • Brain in infants.
  • Hips in infants.

4.       What is the purpose of ultrasound?

Ultrasound images can provide important information to diagnose and treat several medical conditions. Reasons to perform an ultrasound include:

  • View the uterus and ovaries of a pregnant woman and assess the fetus.
  • Diagnose gallbladder disease.
  • Evaluate flow in blood vessels.
  • Guide a needle for biopsy or tumor treatment.
  • Evaluate a breast lump.
  • Check a thyroid gland.
  • Diagnose certain cancers.
  • Unveil genital and prostate abnormalities.

5.       What are the benefits related to ultrasound?

·         Non-invasiveness.

·         Easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods.

·         Clear pictures of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.

·         Real-time imaging.

6.       What risks are related to ultrasound?

This is a safe and painless procedure with no known risks.

7.       What are the limitations of ultrasound?

Sound doesn't travel well through air or bone, so ultrasound isn't effective at imaging parts of the body with gas in them or that are hidden by bone. To view these areas, a doctor may order CT or MRI scans, or X-rays, or other imaging tests.

8.       How can you prepare for an ultrasound test?

·         Ultrasound tests generally don’t require any preparation.

·         Gallbladder ultrasound exams may require fasting for up to 6 hours in advance.

·         Pelvis ultrasound exams may require a full bladder.

9.       What happens during an ultrasound test?

·         You may need to remove jewelry and some or all of your clothing – thus you should wear comfortable, loose-fitting garments –, change into a gown, and lie face up on an examination table.

·         Gel is applied to the skin to prevent the formation of air pockets that can block the sound waves.

·         A sonographer presses a transducer (a small handheld probe) against the skin over the area being examined, moving it as necessary to capture the image – some types of ultrasound may occur inside the body, such as transvaginal or transrectal sonography.  

·         The transducer sends sound waves into the body, through soft tissue and fluids, and collects sound waves that echo back and sends them to a computer, which produces the images.

10.   What happens after an ultrasound test?

A radiologist analyzes the images and sends a report back to the doctor, who will share the results with the patient. In the meantime, the patient can get back to his/her daily activities immediately following the exam.

11.   Are there other uses for ultrasound technology?

Ultrasound units can be used as rehab and pain management supplies.


Related: Buy Ultrasound Equipment and Ultrasound Units