Overview of ultrasound
Ultrasound or ultrasonography is a non-invasive, painless procedure. It uses high-frequency sound waves called ultrasound waves to produce images of organs, soft tissues, blood vessels, and blood flow, from inside the body. These images are used for medical analysis.
After x-ray exams, ultrasound is the most commonly used form of diagnostic imaging. It helps doctors gain insights into the inner workings of the body, and is known for being:
- Radiation free
- Widely accessible
How to prepare for an Ultrasound (ultrasonography)?
The steps you will take to prepare for an ultrasound will depend on the area or organ that is being examined.
Your doctor may tell you 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 for the technician to get a clear picture.
For an examination of the gallbladder, liver, pancreas, or spleen, you may be told to eat a fat-free meal the evening before your test and then to fast until the procedure. However, you can continue to drink 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 better visualized.
Be sure to tell your doctor about any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or herbal supplements that you take before the exam. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and ask any questions you may have before the procedure.
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.
How an ultrasound is performed
Before the exam, you will change into a hospital gown. You will most likely be lying down on a table with a section of your body exposed for the test.
An ultrasound technician, called a sonographer, will apply a special lubricating jelly to your skin. This prevents friction so they can rub the ultrasound transducer on your skin. The transducer has a similar appearance to a microphone. The jelly also helps transmit the sound waves.
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 into a computer. The sound waves are at too high of a pitch for the human ear to hear. They form a picture that can be interpreted by the doctor.
Depending on the area being examined, you may need to change positions so the technician can have better access.
After the procedure, the gel will be 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.
After an ultrasound
Following the exam, your doctor will review the images and check for any abnormalities. They will call you to discuss the findings, or to schedule a follow-up appointment. Should anything abnormal turn up on the ultrasound, 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 can make a diagnosis of your condition based on your ultrasound, they may begin your treatment immediately.
What other tests can I do in addition to the ultrasound test?
In addition, your doctor may recommend other tests to check the health of your pelvic organs. These tests can be
Hysteroscopy: a thin device that is inserted into the vagina to detect uterine problems.
Laparoscopy: A thin, shiny tube is sent through the abdominal wall to examine the organs.
What are the results of USG test?
It examines various abdominal and pelvic organs or to check fetal development, the doctor will describe the test results in detail based on the images obtained from the ultrasound.
It usually looks for organ inflammation, stones, or abnormalities found in children. Appropriate follow-up tests are recommended if inflammation is found in the organs. If the fetus and an appropriate procedure are abnormal or USG treatment, the doctor may prescribe it to the mother.
Ultrasound is a safe procedure that uses low-power sound waves. No known risks.
This is a valuable tool, but it has its limitations. Sound does not travel well through the air or bones, so ultrasound is not effective in imaging parts of the body that contain gas or hidden by bones, such as the lungs or the head. To see these areas, your doctor may order other imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs or X-rays.
Benefits of Ultrasound
It offers many advantages:
- They are generally painless and do not require needles, injections, or incisions.
- Patients aren’t exposed to ionizing radiation, making the procedure safer than diagnostic techniques such as X-rays and CT scans. In fact, there are no known harmful effects when used as directed by your health care provider.
- It captures images of soft tissues that don’t show up well on X-rays.
- Ultrasounds are widely accessible and less expensive than other methods.