Why would a woman need an ultrasound
By Anna Nowogrodzki. Early pregnancy can feel unreal. So the first ultrasound picture can feel momentous: Finally, your whirring brain can be placated with direct proof. For this guide, I interviewed two obstetricians who specialize in ultrasounds — and a radiologist whose observation led to a diagnostic breakthrough — to find out what you need to know about prenatal ultrasounds.
Why do women seek ultrasound scans from commercial providers during pregnancy?
Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. It is used to help diagnose the causes of pain, swelling and infection in the body's internal organs and to examine a baby in pregnant women and the brain and hips in infants.
It's also used to help guide biopsies, diagnose heart conditions, and assess damage after a heart attack. Ultrasound is safe, noninvasive, and does not use ionizing radiation. This procedure requires little to no special preparation.
Your doctor will instruct you on how to prepare, including whether you should refrain from eating or drinking beforehand. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown. Ultrasound is safe and painless. It produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves.
Ultrasound imaging is also called ultrasound scanning or sonography. It uses a small probe called a transducer and gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves travel from the probe through the gel into the body.
The probe collects the sounds that bounce back. A computer uses those sound waves to create an image. Ultrasound exams do not use radiation as used in x-rays. Because images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs. They can also show blood flowing through blood vessels. Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.
Conventional ultrasound displays the images in thin, flat sections of the body. Advancements in ultrasound technology include three-dimensional 3-D ultrasound that formats the sound wave data into 3-D images. Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates movement of materials in the body. It allows the doctor to see and evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins in the body. Ultrasound examinations can help to diagnose a variety of conditions and to assess organ damage following illness.
Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body's internal organs, including but not limited to the:. With knowledge about the speed and volume of blood flow gained from a Doppler ultrasound image, the physician can often determine whether a patient is a good candidate for a procedure like angioplasty. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined. Preparation for the procedure will depend on the type of examination you will have.
For some scans your doctor may instruct you not to eat or drink for as many as 12 hours before your appointment. For others you may be asked to drink up to six glasses of water two hours prior to your exam and avoid urinating so that your bladder is full when the scan begins.
Ultrasound scanners consist of a computer console, video display screen and an attached transducer. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone. Some exams may use different transducers with different capabilities during a single exam.
The transducer sends out inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes. The principles are similar to sonar used by boats and submarines. The technologist applies a small amount of gel to the area under examination and places the transducer there. The gel allows sound waves to travel back and forth between the transducer and the area under examination. The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a video display screen that looks like a computer monitor.
The computer creates the image based on the loudness amplitude , pitch frequency and time it takes for the ultrasound signal to return to the transducer. Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by bats, ships and fishermen.
When a sound wave strikes an object, it bounces back, or echoes. By measuring these echo waves, it is possible to determine how far away the object is as well as the object's size, shape and consistency. This includes whether the object is solid or filled with fluid. In medicine, ultrasound is used to detect changes in the appearance of organs, tissues, and vessels and to detect abnormal masses, such as tumors. In an ultrasound exam, a transducer both sends the sound waves and records the echoing waves.
When the transducer is pressed against the skin, it sends small pulses of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce off internal organs, fluids and tissues, the sensitive receiver in the transducer records tiny changes in the sound's pitch and direction. These signature waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor. One or more frames of the moving pictures are typically captured as still images.
Short video loops of the images may also be saved. Doppler ultrasound, a special ultrasound technique, measures the direction and speed of blood cells as they move through vessels.
The movement of blood cells causes a change in pitch of the reflected sound waves called the Doppler effect. A computer collects and processes the sounds and creates graphs or color pictures that represent the flow of blood through the blood vessels.
For most ultrasound exams, you will lie face-up on an exam table that can be tilted or moved. Patients may be turned to either side to improve the quality of the images. After you are positioned on the examination table, the radiologist a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations or sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied.
The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured. There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. However, if scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer.
Rarely, young children may need to be sedated in order to hold still for the procedure. Parents should ask about this beforehand and be made aware of food and drink restrictions that may be needed prior to sedation.
Once the imaging is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry quickly.
The ultrasound gel does not usually stain or discolor clothing. In some ultrasound studies, the transducer is attached to a probe and inserted into a natural opening in the body. These exams include:. Ultrasound exams in which the transducer is inserted into an opening of the body may produce minimal discomfort. If a Doppler ultrasound study is performed, you may actually hear pulse-like sounds that change in pitch as the blood flow is monitored and measured.
Most ultrasound examinations are completed within 30 minutes, although more extensive exams may take up to an hour. When the examination is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed. After an ultrasound examination, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately. A radiologist, a doctor trained to supervise and interpret radiology exams, will analyze the images.
The radiologist will send a signed report to the doctor who requested the exam. Your doctor will then share the results with you. In some cases, the radiologist may discuss results with you after the exam. Follow-up exams may be needed. If so, your doctor will explain why. Sometimes a follow-up exam is done because a potential abnormality needs further evaluation with additional views or a special imaging technique.
A follow-up exam may also be done to see if there has been any change in an abnormality over time. Follow-up exams are sometimes the best way to see if treatment is working or if an abnormality is stable or has changed. Ultrasound waves are disrupted by air or gas. Therefore, ultrasound is not an ideal imaging technique for the air-filled bowel or organs obscured by the bowel.
Ultrasound is not as useful for imaging air-filled lungs, but it may be used to detect fluid around or within the lungs. Similarly, ultrasound cannot penetrate bone, but may be used for imaging bone fractures or for infection surrounding a bone. Large patients are more difficult to image by ultrasound because greater amounts of tissue attenuate weaken the sound waves as they pass deeper into the body and need to be returned to the transducer for analysis.
Ultrasound has difficulty penetrating bone and, therefore, can only see the outer surface of bony structures and not what lies within except in infants who have more cartilage in their skeletons than older children or adults. For visualizing internal structure of bones or certain joints, other imaging modalities such as MRI are typically used. Please type your comment or suggestion into the text box below.
Note: we are unable to answer specific questions or offer individual medical advice or opinions. Some imaging tests and treatments have special pediatric considerations. Please contact your physician with specific medical questions or for a referral to a radiologist or other physician. To locate a medical imaging or radiation oncology provider in your community, you can search the ACR-accredited facilities database.
This website does not provide cost information. The costs for specific medical imaging tests, treatments and procedures may vary by geographic region. Web page review process: This Web page is reviewed regularly by a physician with expertise in the medical area presented and is further reviewed by committees from the Radiological Society of North America RSNA and the American College of Radiology ACR , comprising physicians with expertise in several radiologic areas.
Outside links: For the convenience of our users, RadiologyInfo. Toggle navigation.
The commercial availability of ultrasound scans for pregnant women has been controversial yet little is known about why women make use of such services. This article reports on semi-structured interviews with women in the UK who have booked a commercial scan, focusing on the reasons women gave for booking commercially provided ultrasound during a low-risk pregnancy. Participants' reasons for booking a scan are presented in five categories: finding out the sex of the foetus; reassurance; seeing the baby; acquiring keepsakes and facilitating bonding.
A pelvic ultrasound is a noninvasive diagnostic exam that produces images that are used to assess organs and structures within the female pelvis. A pelvic ultrasound allows quick visualization of the female pelvic organs and structures including the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Ultrasound uses a transducer that sends out ultrasound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. The ultrasound transducer is placed on the skin, and the ultrasound waves move through the body to the organs and structures within. The sound waves bounce off the organs like an echo and return to the transducer.
An ultrasound test uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your internal organs. Imaging tests can identify abnormalities and help doctors diagnose conditions. A transvaginal ultrasound, also called an endovaginal ultrasound, is a type of pelvic ultrasound used by doctors to examine female reproductive organs. This includes the uterus , fallopian tubes , ovaries , cervix, and vagina. Unlike a regular abdominal or pelvic ultrasound, where the ultrasound wand transducer rests on the outside of the pelvis, this procedure involves your doctor or a technician inserting an ultrasound probe about 2 or 3 inches into your vaginal canal. A full bladder helps lift the intestines and allows for a clearer picture of your pelvic organs. If your bladder needs to be full, you have to drink about 32 ounces of water or any other liquid about one hour before the procedure begins. There may or may not be stirrups. Your doctor covers the ultrasound wand with a condom and lubricating gel, and then inserts it into your vagina.
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Atlantic Medical Imaging offers many different types of ultrasound at our practices throughout New Jersey. We provide a brief overview of various types of ultrasounds below. An abdominal ultrasound is a useful way of examining internal organs, including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder.
Types of Ultrasounds (Sonogram)
Victorian government portal for older people, with information about government and community services and programs. Type a minimum of three characters then press UP or DOWN on the keyboard to navigate the autocompleted search results. Other names for an ultrasound scan include sonogram or when imaging the heart an echocardiogram.
Request an Appointment. Refer a Patient. A pelvic ultrasound is a test doctors use to see the organs inside your pelvis. Pelvic ultrasounds help your doctor or health care provider make sure your reproductive organs are healthy. These include your:. Your doctor can also use a special type of ultrasound called a Doppler ultrasound to see if blood in your pelvic organs is flowing how it should.
This is a review of orthorexia and its health effects. Orthorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves a harmful obsession with healthy eating. Reducing carbohydrates in the diet is a great way to lose weight and improve health. This page explains how many carbs you should aim for each day. If your take on meditation is that it's boring or too "new age," then read this.
Your doctor may request the test to diagnose unexplained pain, swelling, or infections in your pelvis, which is the space between your hip bones that contains the large triangle-shaped bone at the bottom of your spine sacrum , your tailbone, bladder, sex organs and rectum the final portion of your large intestine that connects to your anus. A pelvic ultrasound is the best test to examine a growth in your pelvis. It helps your doctor determine if the growth is a fluid-filled cyst, a solid tumor, or another kind of lump.
Diagnostic ultrasound, also called sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, is an imaging method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body. The images can provide valuable information for diagnosing and treating a variety of diseases and conditions. Most ultrasound examinations are done using an ultrasound device outside your body, though some involve placing a device inside your body.
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