A technologist uses a handheld probe to transmit sound waves into the body. These waves reflect off organs and other structures in varying degrees to produce an image.
Ultrasound images are displayed in real time, allowing the movement of organs, tendons, a fetus, or even blood flow to be visualized and assessed. One of the advantages of ultrasound imaging is that there is no exposure to radiation and no known harmful effects.
A general ultrasound images the body’s internal anatomy. It is most commonly used to assess the abdomen, pelvis, urinary system, scrotum, and glands including thyroid.
A vascular ultrasound uses Doppler technology which assesses the blood flow in veins and arteries to detect blockages, clots, and other conditions. A Doppler ultrasound produces a heartbeat-like sound and allows the technologist to view blood flow in color.
An obstetrical ultrasound determines the presence of an embryo, assesses the mother’s anatomy and examines the fetus to assess growth and well-being.
A breast ultrasound can image the breast and is particularly useful in imaging the area closest to the chest wall, which may be difficult to view with a mammogram.
A musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasound examines the tendons and ligaments that hold the muscles and bones in place and evaluates joints of the body including shoulder, knee, and elbow.
A cardiac ultrasound is commonly referred to as an echocardiogram. Heart valves, chambers and walls are examined using Doppler ultrasound to assess heart structure and function, including blood flow through the valves.