An ultrasound scan uses sound waves to create an image, called a sonogram, of the inside of the body that looks similar to a black-and-white photograph. However, if you thought ultrasounds were just used during pregnancy, you'd be wrong.
How Does an Ultrasound Work?
Ultrasound waves are high-frequency sound waves. The medical technician holds a device called a transducer against your skin that sends sound waves into the body and picks up the echoes as they bounce off organs and tissues. The ultrasound machine then uses these echoes to create an image on a screen or monitor that the technologist can look at. Different parts of your body may be examined depending on why you are having an ultrasound scan.
Are There Different Types of Ultrasound Scans?
Ultrasound scans are used to assess various conditions and can be performed using different types of equipment on different parts of the body. In fact, many sonographers pick an area to specialize in, including:
- Abdominal. Abdominal scans look at the liver, gallbladder, spleen, aorta, kidneys, pancreas, and other organs in the abdominal cavity.
- Cardiac. This type of scan uses ultrasound waves to monitor blood flow and structural abnormalities in the heart. It can also be used to assess heart function.
- OB/GYN. This type of scan is used to assess the health of a growing fetus and to examine the reproductive organs, including the uterus and ovaries. Additionally, some OB/GYN exams require the use of a transvaginal ultrasound, which is done internally.
- Vascular. This type of scan is used to look at blood flow and structural abnormalities in the arteries, veins, and other blood vessels. It can be used to assess blood clotting, aneurysms, arteriosclerosis, and more.
Some sonographers decide not to specialize and use ultrasound scans to examine other parts of the body, like the thyroid, breasts, and eyes.
As you can see, ultrasound scans are used for many reasons, not just to check on the sex of an unborn child. The images produced by ultrasound scans can help doctors make more informed decisions about diagnosis and treatment plans for their patients. Ultrasound scans are versatile medical tools that have many different uses ranging from checking the functionality of a thyroid to investigating symptoms of abdominal pain where there is no cause apparent from a physical examination alone.
Contact a local imaging center, such as Hudson Valley Imaging, to learn more about ultrasounds.