Ultrasounds are procedures that help doctors diagnose and manage a variety of health issues. Commonly used to monitor a fetus during pregnancy, an ultrasound is also used to view many organs and guide procedures.
Ultrasound: An Important Tool for Physicians
Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, is a noninvasive diagnostic tool which involves using high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures from inside of the body. Ultrasound images are captured in real-time, making them extremely effective in showing the structure and movement of many of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.
Common ultrasound uses
Typically performed on an outpatient basis, Franciscan Health uses ultrasound to help physicians evaluate symptoms such as pain, swelling and infection. Ultrasound also can be used to guide procedures such as needle biopsies and to take picture of the breasts in helping to detect breast cancer.
Ultrasound is also used to monitor a fetus while still inside the mother’s womb. Obstetrical ultrasounds also often include pictures of even video images of the baby or babies.
What to expect from an ultrasound
The patient is placed on an exam table and positioned appropriately for the exam. A technologist applies a warm gel to the skin in order to transmit the sound waves. A hand-held device is placed in contact with the gelled skin and maneuvered to complete the study.
Pre-examination preparation may require drinking water ahead of time in order to fill the bladder. Other preparations may include fasting or advance bowel preparation.
Generally the exams can be completed within 30 - 45 minutes. There are procedures which involve more than one technologist, may include a nurse and/or physician and may take up to 1 - 1.5 hours to complete.