Ultrasound is a medical imaging technique that uses high frequency sound waves and their echoes to create visual images of internal anatomical structures. Similar to echolocation used by bats, dolphins, and whales, ultrasound sends sound waves into the body and receives information about internal structures based on the intensity and frequency of returned vibrations.
There are three components to an ultrasound machine: a transducer probe, a CPU (central processing unit), and a display. The transducer probe sends sound waves into your body. When the sound wave hits a boundary designated by a change of the type of tissue, i.e. fluid to soft tissue or soft tissue to bone, it is reflected back to the probe. The probe transmits the waves to the CPU. The CPU interprets the intensity and frequency of each sound wave to determine the distance the probe is from the body structures and the relative densities of each structure.
This information is translated onto a computer screen that displays images for radiologists to study.
The probe uses piezoelectric quartz crystals to generate and receive sound waves. To begin an ultrasound, an electrical signal is applied to these crystals. This causes these tiny crystals to change shapes rapidly, creating sound wave vibrations that travel into your body. When the waves hit a change of tissue in the body, some of the waves are reflected back towards the probe.
When the waves hit the probe, the sound waves cause the crystals to emit electrical currents. These electrical signals then travel to the CPU and are interpreted.
No! There are no confirmed side effects from ultrasound. Unlike X-rays, which use radiation, ultrasound exams uses reflected sound waves to examine areas of the body. Because there is no radiation exposure, ultrasound is the preferred imaging technique for pregnant mothers and their unborn infants.
Our imaging centers offer several types of ultrasound exams including: abdominal, pelvic, transvaginal, scrotum, thyroid and musculoskeletal. Vascular ultrasound exams include abdominal and peripheral venous and arterial studies.
Preparation for your ultrasound exam is determined by the part of your body to be examined.
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam.
For abdominal, aorta, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, spleen and pancreas ultrasound exams – Do not eat or drink for at least 8 hours prior to your exam. This includes mints and chewing gum. During this 8 hour period you may continue to take regular medications but only with small sips of water.
For pediatric ultrasound exams – Fasting time is dependent upon the child’s age. Consult your doctor for additional information.
For pelvic ultrasound exams – Empty your bladder approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours prior to your exam, and then drink 32 ounces of liquid of your choice. Your bladder should be full for the exam. Do not empty your bladder again until the exam has been completed. You may continue to take regular medications.
Once the exam is complete, a physician will review the study and dictate a report. This report will be sent to the doctor who ordered your study. We recommend that you call and schedule a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss the results.
When you call, we will need to know which exam your healthcare provider ordered and why. We will also ask you for your insurance information. You will need to pay any co-pay or deductible at the time of the exam. We conveniently file your claim with your insurance provider.
We will also be happy to answer any additional questions you may have!
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