What is Ultrasound?
Ultrasound is like ordinary sound except it has a frequency (or pitch) higher than people can hear. The sound is reflected off internal soft tissue organs that do not show up well on x-ray images and is analyzed by a computer to make a picture on a television screen. Ultrasound scanning works similarly to sonar systems used by ships. Diagnostic ultrasound is also called sonography.
Ultrasounds are classified into four basic categories:
- Pelvic/Obstetric Ultrasound
- A visual method commonly used during pregnancy to check the age of the baby, rule out twins, screen for birth defects or evaluate abnormal symptoms during pregnancy. Non-pregnant patients are referred for pelvic ultrasounds to evaluate pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, abnormal findings from a PAP test or physical exam.
- Abdomen Ultrasound
- Anatomy from an abdominal ultrasound is visualized and may help explain current symptoms, findings from a physical exam or provide additional information.
- Vascular Ultrasound
- Results from these tests can confirm a diagnosis of vascular disease.
- Doppler ultrasound exams show anatomy as well as blood flow within the vessels.
- Arterial physiologic testing uses doppler ultrasound and blood pressure cuffs to evaluate blood flow to the legs or arms. For persons who suffer from poor circulation to the legs, feet or hands, this test can help diagnose the underlying cause.
- Breast Ultrasound
- This test is used to verify a mass that has been felt by a patient. It is also used as a follow-up test when a mass is detected on a mammogram.
Who Performs the Ultrasound Examination?
A diagnostic medical sonographer, a health professional who has been trained specifically to perform ultrasound exams, will perform your test. Following the completion of your exam, the sonographer will review the images and your history with a radiologist, a physician trained in the interpretation of ultrasound and other imaging tests. Although the sonographer may play a critical role in acquiring the information needed to make a diagnosis, a radiologist makes the final diagnosis of ultrasound studies.
Your Test Results
A radiologist will review and interpret the recorded pictures. Results will be sent to your physician. Your physician will inform you of the results and answer any questions you have about the test results.
Is Ultrasound Safe?
There are no known harmful effects with the use of ultrasound, which is why it has been used for many years. Although the possibility exists that biological effects may be identified in the future, current data show that the benefits to patients outweigh the risks, if any, that may be present. However, it is recommended that diagnostic ultrasound be used only for medical benefit and with minimal exposure.
Scheduling Your Test
Ultrasound exams are scheduled by your physician. Test time varies from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the type of exam ordered.
Please plan your time accordingly. Early appointments are recommended for diabetic patients scheduled for exams requiring diet restrictions.
Physicians providing service at Herrin Hospital are independent contractors with privileges to admit and care for patients in the hospital.