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Ultrasound

Sonogram

 

Ultrasound involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs and systems within the body.

How the Test is Performed

 

An ultrasound machine creates images that allow various organs in the body to be examined. The machine sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off body structures. A computer receives these reflected waves and uses them to create a picture. Unlike with an x-ray or CT scan, there is no ionizing radiation exposure with this test.

The test is done in the ultrasound or radiology department. You will be lying down for the procedure. A clear, water-based conducting gel is applied to the skin over the area being examined to help with the transmission of the sound waves. A handheld probe called a transducer is moved over the area being examined. You may be asked to change position so that other areas can be examined.

For specific information about ultrasound examinations, please refer to the following topics:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Breast ultrasound
  • Doppler ultrasound of an arm or a leg
  • Doppler/ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram)
  • Duplex ultrasound
  • Pregnancy ultrasound
  • Testicle ultrasound
  • Thyroid ultrasound
  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • Vascular ultrasound

 

How to Prepare for the Test

 

Preparation for the procedure will depend on the body region being examined.

 

How the Test Will Feel

 

There is generally little discomfort with ultrasound procedures. The conducting gel may feel slightly cold and wet.

 

Why the Test is Performed

 

The reason for the examination will depend on your symptoms.

 

Normal Results

 

Results are considered normal if the organs and structures in the region being examined are normal in appearance.

 

What Abnormal Results Mean

 

The significance of abnormal results will depend on the body region being examined and the nature of the problem. Consult your health care provider with any questions and concerns.

 

Risks

 

There are no documented risks. No ionizing radiation exposure is involved.

 

Considerations

 

Most ultrasound examinations are performed in the manner described. However, certain circumstances require that the ultrasound probe be inserted into the body, rather than simply passing it over the skin. Consult your health care provider to determine the specifics of your test.

 

 

References

Cosgrove DO, Meire HB, Lim A, Eckersley RJ. Ultrasound: general principles. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 3.

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  • Abdominal ultrasound

    Abdominal ultrasound

    illustration

  • Ultrasound in pregnancy

    Ultrasound in pregnancy

    illustration

  • 17 week ultrasound

    17 week ultrasound

    illustration

  • 30 week ultrasound

    30 week ultrasound

    illustration

  • Carotid duplex

    Carotid duplex

    illustration

  • Ultrasound comparison

    Ultrasound comparison

    illustration

  • Thyroid ultrasound

    Thyroid ultrasound

    illustration

  • Ultrasound

    Ultrasound

    illustration

  • Ultrasound, normal fetus- ventricles of brain

    Ultrasound, normal fetus...

    illustration

    • Abdominal ultrasound

      Abdominal ultrasound

      illustration

    • Ultrasound in pregnancy

      Ultrasound in pregnancy

      illustration

    • 17 week ultrasound

      17 week ultrasound

      illustration

    • 30 week ultrasound

      30 week ultrasound

      illustration

    • Carotid duplex

      Carotid duplex

      illustration

    • Ultrasound comparison

      Ultrasound comparison

      illustration

    • Thyroid ultrasound

      Thyroid ultrasound

      illustration

    • Ultrasound

      Ultrasound

      illustration

    • Ultrasound, normal fetus- ventricles of brain

      Ultrasound, normal fetus...

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Self Care

       

        Tests for Ultrasound

         
         

        Review Date: 11/21/2010

        Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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