An ultrasound is used to study a person’s internal structure for study and/or diagnostic purposes. An ultrasound is commonly used to monitor the progress of babies in utero. The technique is also used to visualise tendons, muscles, joints, blood vessels and internal organs for pathology or lesions. Ultrasounds are an efficient way to detect damage and abnormalities in organs or blood vessels, to aid in the diagnosis of many medical conditions.
The machine directs high-frequency sound waves at the area being examined. These reflected sounds are recorded to create an image which can be seen on a monitor. The high-frequency sounds emitted by the equipment reaches beyond the range of the human ear – hence, the name ‘ultrasound’.
Ultrasound has many beneficial applications, so it is widely used in various areas of medicine. The technology has enabled doctors to diagnose illness or injury and to guide interventional procedures (e.g. biopsies, drainage and fluid collection).
Most ultrasound scans are non-invasive, however pelvic, prostate and oesophagus scans are somewhat uncomfortable.
Ultrasound procedures are fairly straightforward. Our highly trained and helpful sonographer will ask you to lie down on an examination table. Then, they will place gel on the area being examined to promote contact between your body and the ultrasound probe. To examine the area, the sonographer will place a hand-held probe on your skin above the area being studied. The two- or three-dimensional pictures can be seen in real time on a screen.
Typically, ultrasound scans last between 20-40 minutes. After the procedure, the sonographer will give you paper towels to remove the gel. The results of your ultrasound will be sent to your referring doctor for a follow-up appointment with you to discuss the results.
Ultrasound scans are immensely helpful in the diagnosis and monitoring of medical conditions. Some of its many uses include:
Investigates abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and abnormal sounds. The internal structures commonly examined include: gall bladder, liver, bile ducts, pancreas, kidneys and spleen. The stomach and bowel can’t be examined by ultrasound, as excess air prevents the transfer of sound waves.
The primary purpose of a breast ultrasound is to diagnose breast abnormalities detected by a doctor during a physical examination.
To monitor for fetal abnormalities, check the age, position and growth of the fetus. A pregnancy ultrasound is now a routine scan for Australian women.