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    Ultrasound

    Sonogram

    Ultrasound involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs and systems within the body.

    How the Test is Performed

    An ultrasound machine creates images that allow various organs in the body to be examined. The machine sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off body structures. A computer receives these reflected waves and uses them to create a picture. Unlike with an x-ray or CT scan, there is no ionizing radiation exposure with this test.

    The test is done in the ultrasound or radiology department. You will be lying down for the procedure. A clear, water-based conducting gel is applied to the skin over the area being examined to help with the transmission of the sound waves. A handheld probe called a transducer is moved over the area being examined. You may be asked to change position so that other areas can be examined.

    For specific information about ultrasound examinations, please refer to the following topics:

    • Abdominal ultrasound
    • Breast ultrasound
    • Doppler ultrasound of an arm or a leg
    • Doppler/ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram)
    • Duplex ultrasound
    • Pregnancy ultrasound
    • Testicle ultrasound
    • Thyroid ultrasound
    • Transvaginal ultrasound
    • Vascular ultrasound

    How to Prepare for the Test

    Preparation for the procedure will depend on the body region being examined.

    How the Test Will Feel

    There is generally little discomfort with ultrasound procedures. The conducting gel may feel slightly cold and wet.

    Why the Test is Performed

    The reason for the examination will depend on your symptoms.

    Normal Results

    Results are considered normal if the organs and structures in the region being examined are normal in appearance.

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    The significance of abnormal results will depend on the body region being examined and the nature of the problem. Consult your health care provider with any questions and concerns.

    Risks

    There are no documented risks. No ionizing radiation exposure is involved.

    Considerations

    Most ultrasound examinations are performed in the manner described. However, certain circumstances require that the ultrasound probe be inserted into the body, rather than simply passing it over the skin. Consult your health care provider to determine the specifics of your test.

    References

    Cosgrove DO, Meire HB, Lim A, Eckersley RJ. Ultrasound: general principles. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 3.

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    • Abdominal ultrasound

      illustration

    • Ultrasound in pregnancy

      illustration

    • 17 week ultrasound

      illustration

    • 30 week ultrasound

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    • Carotid duplex

      illustration

    • Ultrasound comparison

      illustration

    • Thyroid ultrasound

      illustration

    • Ultrasound

      illustration

    • Ultrasound, normal fetus...

      illustration

      • Abdominal ultrasound

        illustration

      • Ultrasound in pregnancy

        illustration

      • 17 week ultrasound

        illustration

      • 30 week ultrasound

        illustration

      • Carotid duplex

        illustration

      • Ultrasound comparison

        illustration

      • Thyroid ultrasound

        illustration

      • Ultrasound

        illustration

      • Ultrasound, normal fetus...

        illustration

      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Ultrasound

          Review Date: 11/21/2010

          Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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