What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound scan is a medical test that uses sound waves to make dynamic live images from the inside of body. It’s also known as ultrasonography. An ultrasound allows the physician to see problems with organs like bladder, brain (in infants), eyes, gallbladder, kidneys, liver, ovaries, pancreas, spleen, thyroid, testicles, uterus and blood vessels and tissues without needing to make an incision.
Why an ultrasound is performed?
Often people associate ultrasound scans with pregnancy. The scans provide a mother with the images of her unborn child. What are the other uses of ultrasound? Your physician may order an ultrasound to investigate the cause of pain, swelling, or other symptoms that require an internal view of your organs. An ultrasound is also a helpful to guide surgeons during certain medical procedures, such as biopsies-getting tissue sample.
What is the preparation for an ultrasound?
The steps taken to prepare for an ultrasound depend on the area or organ that is being examined. There may a requirement to fast for eight to 12 hours before your ultrasound, especially if your abdomen is being examined. Undigested food can block the sound waves, making it difficult to get a clear picture. For an examination of the gallbladder, liver, pancreas, or spleen, you may have to eat a fat-free meal the evening before your test and then to fast until the procedure. However, you can continue to have water and take any medications as instructed. For other examinations, you may be asked to drink a lot of water and to hold your urine so that your bladder is full and gives a better window to view the uterus and ovaries.
It is advisable to tell your diagnostic medical sonographer about any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or herbal supplements that you take before the exam. Follow instructions and ask any questions you may have before the procedure.
What are the benefits of Ultrasound?
An ultrasound carries minimal risks. Unlike X-rays or CT scans ultrasounds use no radiation. For this reason, they are the preferred method for examining a developing fetus during pregnancy. Making it to be a highly sensitive investigation to pick up a pathology.
How an ultrasound is performed?
Before the exam, you might be asked to change into a hospital gown. You may be lying down on a table with a section of your body exposed for the test. A diagnostic medical sonographer, will apply a special lubricating jelly to your skin preventing friction and providing a medium for sound to travel from ultrasound transducer on your skin. The transducer has a similar appearance to a microphone. The transducer sends high-frequency sound waves through your body. The waves echo as they hit a dense object, such as an organ or bone. Those echoes are then reflected back into a computer. The sound waves are at too high of a pitch or high frequency for the human ear to hear. They form a picture on the ultrasound screen which can be interpreted by the doctor. Depending on the area being examined, you may need to change positions so that diagnostic medical sonographer can have better access. After the procedure, the gel is cleaned off of your skin. The whole procedure typically lasts less than 30 minutes, depending on the area being examined. You will be free to go about your normal activities after the procedure has finished.
What happens after an ultrasound test?
Following the exam, the images are reviewed and checked for any abnormalities. The findings are recorded in a special report. Should anything abnormal turn up on the ultrasound which requires a further work, you may need to undergo other diagnostic techniques, such as a CT scan, MRI, or a biopsy sample of tissue depending on the area examined. If your doctor is able to make a diagnosis of your condition based on your ultrasound, they may begin your treatment immediately.