Ultrasounds are mostly known as a method of imaging that allows pregnant women to see and hear their unborn babies. While this is perhaps the most common use, ultrasounds are used for much more. In this article, we will discuss the ins and outs of ultrasounds including what they are, how they work, and what happens during an ultrasound.
An ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging modality that employs sound waves to create and capture live images from the inside of your body. Ultrasound technology is similar to sonar and radar, which is why it is also called sonography. An ultrasound allows radiologists to identify and diagnose issues with organs, blood vessels, and tissues in the body. Ultrasound images can be displayed in 2D, 3D, or 4D.
Ultrasounds are used to diagnose issues inside the body that may present symptoms outside the body such as pain or swelling. Ultrasounds are then used for an internal view of your organs. While ultrasounds of fetuses during pregnancy are one of the most common uses, there are many other uses, including imaging the heart, blood vessels, brain, breast, abdominal organs, skin, pancreas, and kidneys. Ultrasounds are also often used to image organs in infants and children because they are safer than other imaging methods.
Before you have your ultrasound, the sonographer will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have, so this is your time to have questions ready. The sonographer will apply a clear gel to your skin, which acts as a conductor so sound waves can pass more easily into the area being imaged. The sonographer will then place the transducer (a hand-held ultrasound device) on the area being examined, moving it to allow the machine to produce a full image or moving picture on the screen.
Your radiologist or imaging center staff will let you know if you need to prepare in any way before your ultrasound. Generally, an ultrasound takes about 30 minutes to complete. However, it depends on the area being imaged, as some will need more detail and therefore more time.
Unlike other imaging techniques, ultrasound uses no ionizing radiation to create the images or video. Because there is no ultrasound radiation, ultrasounds are the preferred method of imaging a pregnant woman or infant.
If you are looking to schedule an ultrasound in San Francisco, contact the board-certified radiologists at Bay Imaging Radiology. We serve in dozens of hospital and outpatient locations throughout the Eastern and Western Bay area - schedule an appointment today at a location near you!