Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high frequency sound waves. The reflected sound wave echoes are recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. No ionizing radiation (x-ray) is involved in ultrasound imaging. Obstetric ultrasound refers to the specialized use of sound waves to visualize and thus determine the condition of a pregnant woman and her embryo or fetus.

Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body's internal organs, including the heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder. Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show movement of internal tissues and organs, and enable physicians to see blood flow and heart valve functions. This can help to diagnose a variety of heart conditions and to assess damage after a heart attack or other illness.

What is the purpose of an ultrasound Exam?

Ultrasound is used to help physicians evaluate symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Infection

Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body's internal organs, including but not limited to the:

  • Liver
  • Gallbladder
  • Spleen
  • Pancreas
  • Kidneys
  • Uterus, ovaries and unborn child (fetus) in pregnant patients
  • Tyroid
  • Scrotum (testicles)

What should I expect during my ultrasound?

Ultrasound exams are performed by a sonographer, a radiology doctor trained in ultrasound imaging. After you are positioned on the padded exam table, the sonographer will apply some warm gel on your skin and then place the transducer against your body, moving it back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.

There is usually no discomfort as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. If the study is performed over an area of tenderness or through an opening in the body, you may feel pressure or minor discomfort from the transducer.

Once the imaging is complete, you may be asked to wait for a short period of time while the sonographer reviews your study with the radiologist. After the study, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately. A final report will be sent to your referring physician.

Ultrasound exams are typically less than 30 minutes.