Radiology and Imaging

Ultrasound

ultrasound2Below is a list of some frequently asked questions, but feel free to contact us if you need additional information. We are always pleased to assist you.

What is an ultrasound?

An Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to produce images. Sound waves are sent and received through a small hand-held device known as a transducer. The returning sound waves are used to produce the images.

Why has my doctor ordered an ultrasound?

Ultrasound provides information for your doctor about the specific soft tissue structure being examined, or about the blood flow in vessels within the soft tissues. Soft tissue structures include a mass in or around a joint, or in a muscle or within your abdomen or pelvis. You may be familiar with the role of ultrasound used during pregnancy, or to examine your gallbladder or your kidneys. You may also be familiar with the term Doppler imaging, which provides blood flow information in both arteries and veins. Abnormal blood flow can be seen in a variety of inflammatory conditions; Doppler is used to examine soft tissues for inflammation.

ultrasoundWho performs and interprets ultrasound?

The ultrasound examination will be performed either by an ultrasound technologist, who has received training by an accredited institution to perform ultrasound examinations, or by an ultrasound experienced radiologist. Because ultrasound is operator dependent, it will often be the case that the examination will first be performed by the ultrasound technologist, and then the radiologist may come in to post-scan, to further define an area of interest and ensure that the best possible examination is obtained.

How is the ultrasound performed?

The individual being examined is either seated comfortably in a chair, or lies on a stretcher. Depending on the area to be examined, it may be necessary for you to wear a gown or to assume a particular position, to allow access to the area of concern. A clear gel is applied to the area being examined. The ultrasound transducer is placed directly on the gel to produce images.

What should I do to prepare for the ultrasound?

ultrasound3In most instances, no particular preparation is required. Depending on the area being examined, some initial preparation may be necessary. For example, when looking at the gallbladder, several hours of fasting prior to the exam is required; or when looking at the pelvic organs, it will be necessary to drink water to fill up the bladder. The necessary information will be provided to you at the time the specific exam is scheduled.

What are the risks?

Ultrasound uses non-ionizing radiation and is extremely safe. You may be familiar with the role of ultrasound when it has been used to study the fetus in all phases of development.

What are the alternatives?

Other imaging modalities such as MRI may provide similar types of information or complementary information. When ultrasound is appropriate, it has the advantage of being readily available, comfortable for most people, and less expensive than other types of imaging that may provide comparable information.

What can I expect after the ultrasound examination?

Following an ultrasound examination performed only for diagnostic purposes, you will be able to immediately resume your pre-examination activities.

What happens with the results?

The results of the ultrasound examination are determined by both the real-time (observed during the examination) and the final static images produced. After the examination, the radiologist will review this information in order to generate a written report for your referring doctor. Copies of the report can be obtained through your referring physician's office. The radiographs are the property of the institution, as are biopsy slides or blood samples. Copies of the radiographs can be obtained by contacting the file room. There is a charge for obtaining film copies and mailing them to your physician.

Will other tests be ordered?

For some ultrasound procedures, it may be necessary to have a blood test prior to the ultrasound exam. Alternatively, based on the results, the need to perform another imaging study may become apparent. In most cases, however, the ultrasound will be the only test required.

 

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