Digital Ultrasound is a real-time imaging method, meaning the images are obtained continuously in a manner similar to a video camera. It enables us to spot any tumors, stones or abnormalities that you may have within you, determines your risk for a heart attack or stroke, and allows us the first glimpse of an embryo.
Ultrasound, otherwise known as ultrasonography or sonography, is a procedure in which sound waves are used to show structures in the human body. The sound waves reflect off of internal organs and other anatomic structures to create images, which a Radiologist can use to determine if the internal anatomy looks normal or abnormal. No ionizing radiation (X-rays) is used in an ultrasound procedure.
Ultrasound examinations can help to diagnose a variety of conditions and to assess organ damage following illness. Ultrasound is used to help physicians evaluate symptoms such as:
- palpable lump in the breast (cyst, cancer, benign tumor)
Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body’s internal organs.
Ultrasound imaging is used extensively for evaluating the liver, kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen and blood vessels of the abdomen.
How should I prepare for my abdominal ultrasound?
We suggest that you wear loose comfortable clothing (you will be asked to change into a gown) and refrain form eating any food six hours prior to the scan.
Doppler ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound study that examines major blood vessels. These images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
- Blockages to blood flow, such as clots.
- Build-up of plaque inside the vessel.
The primary use of ultrasound today is to help diagnose breast abnormalities detected by a physician during a physical exam and to characterize potential abnormalities seen on mammography.
Ultrasound imaging can help to determine if an abnormality is solid (which may be a non-cancerous lump of tissue or a cancerous tumor) or fluid-filled (such as a benign cyst). Ultrasound can also help show additional features of the abnormal area. Because ultrasound provides real-time images, it can also be used to guide procedures, like needle biopsies, in which a needle is used to sample cells from an abnormal area for laboratory testing.
The most frequent reason for a carotid ultrasound exam is to detect narrowing, or stenosis, of the carotid artery, which substantially increases the risk of stroke. If your primary care physician detects high blood pressure or a carotid bruit —an abnormal sound in the neck that is heard with the stethoscope—carotid ultrasound may be needed. Other risk factors calling for ultrasound are advanced age, diabetes, elevated blood cholesterol, and a family history of stroke or heart disease.
If the exam shows narrowing of one or both carotid arteries, your physician may suggest medication, noninvasive angiography, or an operation to restore normal blood flow to the brain. In this way a stroke may be prevented.
For men, pelvic ultrasound usually focuses on the bladder and the prostate gland. For women, pelvic ultrasound is used to examine the uterus and ovaries and, during pregnancy, to monitor the health and development of the embryo or fetus.
A pelvic ultrasound exam can help identify stones, tumors and other disorders in the urinary bladder in men and women. Doppler sonography is another method of ultrasound that can be used to evaluate blood flow in pelvic vessels.
How should I prepare for my pelvic ultrasound?
We suggest that you wear loose comfortable clothing (you will be asked to change into a gown). For some scans you may be asked to drink up to six glasses of water two hours prior to your exam, so your bladder is full when the scanning begins. A full bladder helps with visualization of the uterus, ovaries and bladder wall.
Prostate ultrasound is used to detect possible disorders within a man’s prostate gland. Ultrasound images can indicate when the prostate is enlarged or when there is an abnormal growth that might be cancer.
Ultrasound of the prostate may be warranted if a blood test result is elevated or if a nodule is felt by a physician during a routine physical exam or prostate cancer screening exam. An ultrasound exam can also indicate other types of prostate conditions, such as inflammation of the prostate, or it can be used to help diagnose the reasons for a man’s infertility.
How should I prepare for my prostate ultrasound?
We suggest that you wear loose comfortable clothing (you will be asked to change into a gown). A full bladder helps with visualization of the prostate, so you may be asked to drink up to six glasses of water prior to your exam.
An ultrasound examination of the neck to help diagnosis a lump in the thyroid or a thyroid that is not functioning properly. The thyroid gland is located in front part of the neck just below the Adam’s apple and is shaped like a butterfly, with two lobes on either side of the neck connected by a narrow band of tissue.
The most common reason for a venous ultrasound exam is to search for blood clots, especially in the veins of the leg which can result in leg swelling. In people with Varicose veins, a common condition, the valves that keep blood flowing in the right direction may not work well, and venous ultrasound can help the surgeon decide how best to deal with this condition.
A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care physician or the physician who referred you for the exam, who will share the results with you. In some cases the radiologist may discuss results with you at the conclusion of your examination.