Diagnostic ultrasound, also called sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, is an imaging method that uses sound waves to produce images of structures within your body. The images can provide valuable information for diagnosing and directing treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions. If you wanted to learn more read the full article with Pritish Kumar Halder.
Most ultrasound examinations are done using an ultrasound device outside your body, though some involve placing a small device inside your body.
Why it’s done
Ultrasound is used for many reasons, including to:
- View the uterus and ovaries during pregnancy and monitor the developing baby’s health
- Diagnose gallbladder disease
- Evaluate blood flow
- Guide a needle for biopsy or tumor treatment
- Examine a breast lump
- Check the thyroid gland
- Find genital and prostate problems
- Assess joint inflammation (synovitis)
- Evaluate metabolic bone disease
Diagnostic ultrasound is a safe procedure that uses low-power sound waves. There are no known risks.
Ultrasound is a valuable tool, but it has limitations. Sound waves don’t travel well through air or bone, so ultrasound isn’t effective at imaging body parts that have gas in them or are hidden by bone, such as the lungs or head. Ultrasound may also be unable to see objects that are located very deep in the human body. To view these areas, your health care provider may order other imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans or X-rays.
How you prepare
Most ultrasound exams require no preparation. However, there are a few exceptions:
For some scans, such as a gallbladder ultrasound, your care provider may ask that you not eat or drink for a certain period of time before the exam.
Others, such as a pelvic ultrasound, may require a full bladder. Your doctor will let you know how much water you need to drink before the exam. Do not urinate until the exam is done.
Young children may need additional preparation. When scheduling an ultrasound for yourself or your child, ask your doctor if there are any specific instructions you’ll need to follow.
Clothing and personal items
Wear loose clothing to your ultrasound appointment. You may be asked to remove jewelry during your ultrasound, so it’s a good idea to leave any valuables at home.
What you can expect
Before the procedure
Before your ultrasound begins, you may be asked to do the following:
- Remove any jewelry from the area being examined.
- Remove or reposition some or all of your clothing.
- Change into a gown.
You’ll be asked to lie on an examination table.
During the procedure
Gel is applied to your skin over the area being examined. It helps prevent air pockets, which can block the sound waves that create the images. This safe, water-based gel is easy to remove from skin and, if needed, clothing.
A trained technician (sonographer) presses a small, hand-held device (transducer) against the area being studied and moves it as needed to capture the images. The transducer sends sound waves into your body, collects the ones that bounce back and sends them to a computer, which creates the images.
Sometimes, ultrasounds are done inside your body. In this case, the transducer is attached to a probe that’s inserted into a natural opening in your body. Examples include:
Transesophageal echocardiogram. A transducer, inserted into the esophagus, obtains heart images. It’s usually done while under sedation.
Transrectal ultrasound. This test creates images of the prostate by placing a special transducer into the rectum.
Transvaginal ultrasound. A special transducer is gently inserted into the vagina to look at the uterus and ovaries.
Ultrasound is usually painless. However, you may experience mild discomfort as the sonographer guides the transducer over your body, especially if you’re required to have a full bladder, or inserts it into your body.
A typical ultrasound exam takes from 30 minutes to an hour.
When your exam is complete, a doctor trained to interpret imaging studies (radiologist) analyzes the images and sends a report to your doctor. Your doctor will share the results with you.
You should be able to return to normal activities immediately after an ultrasound.
What Is the Difference Between Sonography and Ultrasound?
Sonography is a technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of internal body structure. For that purpose, ultrasound waves are used. The images of organs, tissues, blood flow, are produced. The image generated by the ultrasound is called a sonogram.
Sonography is also known as ultrasonography. The benefits of ultrasound are-
- Extremely safe
- No radiation
- Widely accessible
- Easy to use
- Real-time imaging
In simple terms, sonography is the technique and ultrasound is the tool.
Sonography is done by sonographers using ultrasound devices. Literally, sonography also means sound writing and ultrasonography means extreme sound writing. This is because the sonographers use high-frequency sound waves to create images during the usg scan.
These high-frequency sound waves move energy through solid, liquid and air by colliding with the particles around. Sound waves quickly move through solids when compared to air. The waves move at a different speed when the sound comes across your internal structures. The waves bounce off as echoes. When processed by a computer, these echoes create images called sonograms.
The machines used for the technique generate and receive high-frequency sound waves. The machine helps both the sonographer and the doctor to view internal body structures of the patient.
Ultrasound devices create both 2D and 3D images. For the past decades, gynecologists use 2D ultrasound to examine the development of the fetus. Even though the 2D images are useful, 3D ultrasound can create clearer images of the fetus. Since ultrasound does not use radiation, it is used for the diagnosis in case of an emergency without the need or other imaging techniques.
Ultrasound is also used to guide procedures. An example is a needle biopsy. In a needle biopsy, a needle is used to collect cells from the affected area for diagnosis. It is also used to guide the biopsy of breast cancer. Moreover, it is also used to diagnose medical conditions of the heart like congestive heart failure. The ultrasound test of the heart is known as an echo cardiogram. It is beneficial for assessing the damage caused by a heart attack.
Sometimes, the soft tissues won’t appear clearly in X-rays. In such cases, ultrasound is preferred.
Ultrasound is also used to determine potential pelvic inflammatory disease, pelvic masses, abscesses, endometriosis. It is also used to examine the reproductive system for patients with infertility issues.
Considered as one of the best imaging techniques, sonography helps doctors to make the diagnosis easily. It is used for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes alike. Not only is sonography safe, but it is also non-invasive, portable and affordable. Since it is portable, patients who won’t be able to visit a hospital or imaging centre can undergo sonography from where they are. But before undergoing the procedure, always enquire about the procedure and follow the doctor’s instructions.