It is a common misconception that Ultrasound, also known as a Sonogram, is only used during pregnancy to see the unborn child. However, Ultrasound is commonly used to assess many areas and organs of the body in both female and male patients.
So, what can you see with ultrasound? Ultrasound can be used to assess the size, function, blood flow, and abnormalities on many organs and soft tissue. It can be used to see cysts, tumors, stones and other abnormal pathology in the body. Ultrasound can also be used to assist in procedures such as Ultrasound guided biopsies in which a doctor uses ultrasound to guide a needle into an area where he or she would like to take a tissue sample from. Ultrasound can even be used on your pets! Some of the things that Ultrasound can image are:
- Vascular System (Veins and Arteries)
- Female Reproductive Organs
- Male Reproductive Organs
- Muscles – Just to name a few!
So what is ultrasound and how does it work? Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves (sound waves beyond the frequency that humans can hear) that travel through the body then return to the Ultrasound machine to produce an image. The technology used in Ultrasound is based on the technology used in Radar and Sonar. A technician holds a small wand with a gel on it to the area on the patient’s body that is being imaged and the wand sends and receives the sound waves. It is painless and in most cases requires no needles or contrast agents to be administered. The benefit of using ultrasound to image the body is that it does not expose the patient to radiation like X-Ray and CT scans do. Ultrasounds can be more cost effective in some situations as well.
Ultrasound technology continues to become more and more advanced. Though ultrasound uses the simple mechanics of sound waves to produce an image, over the years the clarity of these images have greatly improved and additonal technology, such as 3D, has been utilized to optimize these images and how they can be used. This allows for more accuracy and can prevent a patient from having to have more invasive procedures.
So now that you know a little more about ultrasound, spread the word that ultrasound is not just for pregnancy!
Here are some websites with more information on ultrasound: