Sometimes called “sonography” or “diagnostic medical sonography,” an ultrasound is an imaging test that employs high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures in the body. Such images often provide valuable information for the diagnosis and treatment of a number of
diseases and conditions. Most ultrasound testing is done by way of an external sonar device, though on a few occasions, it is done with a device placed within a patient’s body.
Ultrasound is used for a variety of reasons, including to:
Generally, a patient is asked to remove all jewelry, change into a gown and lie on a table. Gel is applied to the skin on the part of the body to be examined to eliminate air pockets that might prevent the sound waves from forming. A sonographer presses a transducer, a small hand-held device, against the skin and moves it over the area being examined. Sound waves are transmitted into the body, and sound waves bounce back and are sent to a computer, which creates the images.
For an internal ultrasound, a probe with a transducer attached is inserted into a natural opening in the body. Internal ultrasounds include:
Ultrasound testing is generally painless and takes from 30 minutes to an hour.