What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a form of medical imaging using sound wave frequencies transmission and echoes to create images of the soft tissue and organs within our bodies. These images can be films/pictures or video recordings. Ultrasound physicians interpret the characteristics of these images to make diagnoses.
Ultrasound is a safe and painless test that does not involve exposure to radiation. This test is often down lying down on a bed. Your ultrasound doctor will apply a gel that helps with sound waves transmission over the area that is required to be scanned. After which, he/she will move a probe over the skin surface to obtain images from different angles.
Ultrasound scans usually take less than 30 minutes, depending on the body area that is being examined. Complex ultrasound scans may require more time.
When is an ultrasound used?
An ultrasound is used when your doctor needs to determine the size, shape and consistency of your internal organs and soft tissue. These organs include the heart and blood vessels, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, thyroid, breast, uterus, and ovaries. Ultrasound can also be used to determine whether lumps are solid tumors or fluid-filled cysts.
Ultrasound is also often used for ultrasound-guided tissue biopsies, because of its excellent ability to locate tissue.
What should I prepare before and after the ultrasound?
No special preparation is needed. Unless specifically advised, you can eat and drink normally before and after your ultrasound test and continue taking medications. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing during the test to expose the body area being examined easier. Sometimes you may be asked to wear a gown. You may also need to remove any jewelry you’re wearing.
For ultrasound scans on certain body area, you may need to:
What limitations does an ultrasound have?
Gas can easily interfere when obtaining images using ultrasound. Therefore, ultrasound is not an ideal method for examining hollow organs containing gas, such as the lungs or digestive tract. Ultrasound is also not useful for examining the internal structure of bones (except for infants).