What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound produces images of soft tissue and organs in the body through the use of sound waves that reflect back and are displayed as a real-time image. Ultrasound can detect diseased or damaged tissues, locate abnormal growths and identify a wide variety of conditions, enabling your radiologist to make a quick and accurate diagnosis.

Ultrasound uses a transducer, a wand-shaped device, that when gently pressed against the skin directs high-frequency sound waves into the body. These sound waves echo back and the transducer electronically converts the reflected waves into very precise images of the body. This is the same principal used to track weather patterns and to guide air traffic. Ionizing radiation (X-ray) is not used in ultrasound making it a safe alternative for imaging pregnant women.

Doppler Vascular Ultrasound

A Doppler vascular ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to obtain a medical image or picture of blood flow through various vessels in the body. Vascular ultrasound produces precise images and measurements of many blood vessels in the body. It is commonly used to image the carotid artery in the neck, or arteries and veins in legs and arms. It can detect diseased vessels and identify a wide variety of changing conditions, enabling your doctor to make a quick and accurate diagnosis.

For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.

Principles of Ultrasound

Sonography relies on the physical properties of sound waves to produce diagnostic images of many soft tissue organs and blood vessels. These sound waves are reflected off anatomical structures, returned to the transducer, and then analyzed. All of these data are assigned levels of brightness and gray scale and displayed on a monitor as a sonogram. All sonographic systems use the same basic components to transmit sound and to form diagnostic images.

During your examination

An Ultrasound examination is performed by a medical diagnostic sonographer, a technologist, trained in ultrasound imaging. To perform the exam, the sonographer uses a transducer, along with hypoallergenic, water-soluble gel applied to the area of interest. The transducer generates and receives the high-frequency sound waves. The ultrasound gel helps to transmit the sound wave.

After your examination

After your ultrasound examination, a radiologist, a doctor trained to read diagnostic images, will interpret the images and dictate a report that is sent to the referring physician. Your physician will then advise you of the results and discuss what further procedures, if any, are needed.

There are no known side effects from ultrasound imaging, and it is not necessary to take any special precautions following your examination.