Ultrasound, also called sonography, is an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to scan and project visual images from inside the human body to produce a picture called a sonogram. Because no ionizing radiation (X-ray) is involved in ultrasound imaging, it is commonly used as a diagnostic tool in obstetrics.
We keep up with the latest developments in ultrasound technology and use the technique to diagnose an array of pathologies and disorders including:
- gall bladder and liver disease
- abdominal cysts and tumors
- various gynecological conditions
Ultrasound is also used to diagnose a variety of heart conditions and to assess damage after a heart attack or other illness.
Doppler ultrasound is a special technique used to examine blood flow. Doppler images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
- Blockages to blood flow (such as clots).
- Narrowing of vessels (which may be caused by plaque).
- Tumors and congenital malformation.
Preparing for your exam
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam. Other preparation depends on the type of examination you will have. For some scans your doctor may instruct you not to eat or drink for as many as 12 hours before your appointment. For others you may be asked to drink up to six glasses of water two hours prior to your exam and avoid urinating so that your bladder is full when the scan begins.
During the exam
Most ultrasound examinations are painless, fast and easy. You will lie on your back on a padded table and the examination is generally completed in less than 30 minutes. The physician or technologist will spread a lubricating gel on the area of your body being examined. A transducer, a small hand-held device about the size of a bar of soap, will be placed firmly against the skin and swept back and forth to obtain images. The images are immediately visible on a nearby screen that resembles a computer or television monitor.