ULTRASOUND

DEFINITION
y Ultrasound Imaging is a medical diagnostic technique

in which very high frequency sound is directed into the body. The tissue interfaces reflect the sound, and the resulting pattern of sound reflection is processed by a computer to produce a photograph or a moving image on a television.

THE EQUIPMENT .

y Ultrasound scanners consist of a console containing a computer and electronics. The transducer sends out high frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes from the tissues in the body. The image is created based on the amplitude (strength). y The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a nearby video . display screen that looks much like a computer or television monitor. frequency and time it takes for the sound signal to return from the patient to the transducer and the type of body structure the sound travels through. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone. attached to the scanner by a cord. a video display screen and a transducer that is used to scan the body and blood vessels. The principles are similar to sonar used by boats and submarines.

y The sound waves used in the ultrasound beam are produced by a rapidly oscillating crystal. and a jellylike substance is smeared on the skin to improve the transmission of sound. The transducer must be in close contact with the skin. A device called a transducer is used to transmit the sound waves and receive the echoes. . and are inaudible to humans.

USES OF ULTRASOUND y Ultrasound examinations can help to diagnose a variety of conditions and to assess organ damage following illness. y Ultrasound is used to help physicians evaluate symptoms such as: y y y pain swelling infection .

and unborn child (fetus) in pregnant patients eyes thyroid and parathyroid glands Scrotum (testicles) . including the abdominal aorta and its major branches liver gallbladder spleen pancreas kidneys bladder uterus.‡ Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body's internal organs. ovaries. including but not limited to the: heart and blood vessels.

y diagnose a variety of heart conditions and to assess damage after a heart attack or diagnose for valvular heart disease. in which needles are used to extract sample cells from an abnormal area for laboratory testing. . y image the breasts and to guide biopsy of breast cancer.y Ultrasound is also used to: y guide procedures such as needle biopsies.

and other cardiac disorders.ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY is the ultrasound examination of the heart. It is used to study congenital heart disease. DOPPLER ULTRASOUND is used to measure the flow of a liquid. for example. Ultrasound can also be used to guide surgical procedures. tumors of the heart. during the insertion of a biopsy needle into a particular area or the pregnancy diagnostic test called amniocentesis. for example. coronary artery disease. . blood flow.

especially when blood flow is little or minimal.y DOPPLER ULTRASOUND . Power Doppler. Spectral Doppler displays blood flow measurements graphically. which may be important in some situations. arms.is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood flow through a blood vessel. in terms of the distance traveled per unit of time. however. does not help the radiologist determine the direction of blood flow. THREE TYPES OF DOPPLER ULTRASOUND y COLOR DOPPLER uses a computer to convert Doppler measurements into an array of colors to visualize the speed and direction of blood flow through a blood vessel. y SPECTRAL DOPPLER Instead of displaying Doppler measurements visually. . legs and neck. y POWER DOPPLER is a newer technique that is more sensitive than color Doppler and capable of providing greater detail of blood flow. including the body's major arteries and veins in the abdomen.

y Narrowing of vessels (which may be caused by plaque). .y Doppler ultrasound images can help the physician to see and evaluate: y Blockages to blood flow (such as clots). y Tumors and congenital malformation.

the head of the fetus is partially outlined on the left side of the picture.Ultrasound Image of Fetus In this ultrasound image of a fetus in the womb. particularly in obstetrics. Ultrasound images are created when very high frequency sound is reflected from living tissue and subsequently processed by a computer. . Ultrasound has a variety of medical applications. where it is used during pregnancy to monitor fetal size and to identify multiple pregnancies or structural abnormalities.

and well-being of the fetus. with no risk to either the fetus or the mother. this early diagnosis allows appropriate treatment to be given during pregnancy and childbirth. . ultrasound is safe during pregnancy. short-limbed dwarfism. development. If multiple births are suspected. Unlike X-ray examination. or severe congenital heart diseases. Ultrasound can also be used to check the baby's due date. the size of the fetus's head can be measured and this is used to estimate its age. ultrasound is used to monitor the growth. ultrasound may be used in order to confirm the number of fetuses. Ultrasound can be used to detect some fetal abnormalities. such as spinal bifida.y During pregnancy.

and other organs. The sound waves reflect in varying degrees when they contact tissues of different density and elasticity. kidney. Outside of obstetrics.y An ultrasound-emitting device called a transducer is placed against the skin of the pregnant woman s abdomen. it is used to detect tumors. ovaries. Ultrasound is also used in procedures involving the sampling of amniotic fluid or placental tissue. . damage. eyes. The pattern of echoes is detected by the transducer and is converted into a moving image seen on a monitor. or abnormalities in the liver.

y The patient may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure. y Other preparation depends on the type of examination the patient will have. y The patient may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined. Patients may be asked to drink up to six glasses of water two hours prior to the exam and avoid urinating so that the bladder is full when the scan begins. . For some scans the doctor may instruct the patient not to eat or drink for as many as 12 hours before the appointment. loose-fitting clothing for his/her ultrasound exam.PATIENT PREPARATION y The patient should wear comfortable.

The sonographer (ultrasound technologist) or radiologist then presses the transducer firmly against the skin in various locations. dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed. the patient is positioned lying face-up on an examination table that can be tilted or moved. y When the examination is complete. Doppler sonography is performed using the same transducer.PROCEDURE y For most ultrasound exams. the patient may be asked to . y A clear water-based gel is applied to the area of the body being studied to help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin. However. the sonographer or radiologist is often able to review the ultrasound images in real-time as they are acquired and the patient can be released immediately. sweeping over the area of interest or angling the sound beam from a farther location to better see an area of concern.

. y Transrectal ultrasound. The transducer is inserted into a man's rectum to view the prostate. These exams include: y Transesophageal echocardiogram. the transducer is attached to a probe and inserted into a natural opening in the body. The transducer is inserted into a woman's vagina to view the uterus and ovaries. The transducer is inserted into the esophagus to obtain images of the heart.y In some ultrasound studies. y Most ultrasound examinations are completed within 30 minutes to an hour. y Transvaginal ultrasound.

In most cases. y Ultrasound has difficulty penetrating bone and therefore can only see the outer surface of bony structures and not what lies within. other imaging modalities such as MRI are typically used. therefore ultrasound is not an ideal imaging technique for the bowel or organs obscured by the bowel. y Large patients are more difficult to image by ultrasound because tissue attenuates (weakens) the sound waves as they pass deeper into the body. For visualizing internal structure of bones or certain joints.LIMITATIONS y Ultrasound waves are disrupted by air or gas. . CT scanning. and MRI are the methods of choice in this setting. barium exams.

imaging methods.BENEFITS usually painless. y Ultrasound is the preferred imaging modality for the diagnosis and monitoring of pregnant women and their unborn babies. y Ultrasound provides real-time imaging. making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such . easy-to-use and less expensive than other y Ultrasound imaging does not use any ionizing radiation y Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images. y Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections) and is y Ultrasound is widely available.

RISK y For standard diagnostic ultrasound there are no known harmful effects on humans. .

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