Ultrasound imaging, or sonography, is a method of seeing inside the human body through the use of high-frequency sound waves. The ultrasound technician will use a small, handheld device called a transducer. This transducer sends sound waves into the body. The sound waves bounce off of fluid, tissues, and organs at different rates. As they bounce back into the transducer, the computer measures the waves and produces an image. Ultrasound does not expose you to any radiation.
Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many parts of the body. Common examinations look at the body’s vascular system, abdominal and pelvic regions, breasts, and head and neck tissues. Ultrasounds also allow us to look at 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 the movement of internal tissues and organs. Premier Diagnostic Imaging offers this noninvasive test as part of their services.
Physicians use diagnostic ultrasounds to diagnose and treat many medical conditions. Common reasons your physician may recommend ultrasound include:
In some cases, the transducer is placed inside the body. This is the case in a transvaginal ultrasound, in which the transducer is placed inside the vagina to view the uterus and ovaries
A Doppler ultrasound is another type of medical ultrasound. It is used to estimate the amount of blood flow through your blood vessels. During this test, the transducer transmits high-frequency sound waves into the body and off of red blood cells. As the sound waves bounce back, the computer measures how fast the blood flow is. This type of ultrasound is used to help diagnose conditions such as blood clots, venous insufficiency, blocked or narrowing arteries, and decreased blood circulation.
There is very little preparation involved in ultrasound imaging. Most ultrasounds don’t require any preparation at all. It is best to wear comfortable clothing that can be removed easily. You may be asked to take off any jewelry near the area of the body being scanned.
If you are having an ultrasound of your abdomen, there could be additional guidelines to follow. You may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for up to six hours before the test. If you are having a pelvic ultrasound, you will need to have a full bladder when you arrive. Specific instructions will be given based on the area that is being scanned.
Most diagnostic ultrasounds are complete within 30 minutes. The sonographer will have you lie down on an exam table. For external ultrasounds, a thin layer of gel will be applied to the area being scanned. This gel acts as a transducer and allows for clear images. It has a sticky texture but is easily wiped off after the test.
The sonographer will use the transducer to gently press on the area being examined. They will move the transducer into different positions, which allows for images of the entire area. They may ask you to change positions during the test. There is usually no discomfort involved. If pain is the reason for the test, you may feel a bit tender.
If you are having a transvaginal ultrasound, a cover will be placed on the transducer and coated with gel. The sonographer will gently slide the wand into your vagina. They may rotate the transducer around to get quality images. You may feel pressure during this type of ultrasound, but this is generally tolerated well.
When the test is complete, the gel will be cleaned off of your skin. If you are in a gown, you can change back into your normal clothes. There are no special instructions and you are free to resume your normal activities.
A radiologist will review your ultrasound images for any abnormalities. Test results are available within 48 hours for you to view on our Patient Portal. We also send test results directly to your physician. From there, your doctor will follow up with you with the test results and recommendations.