An ultrasound is a device that uses sonar and radio technology to create live images of the insides of our body. A sonography is a medical test that is conducted using an ultrasound device.
Sonography is most commonly associated with fetal imaging, to show pregnant women images of their unborn babies. However, this medical test is used in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and conditions as well. Usually, this test is done externally, but in some cases, an ultrasound device is placed inside the body.
Medical professionals use an ultrasound device during biopsy procedures. The live images from sonography help them to navigate with precision. With pregnancy, the images from the ultrasound can help the doctor to monitor the fetus growing within the mother’s womb. Certain birth defects, the sex of the baby, weight of the baby and any potential issue can be determined using ultrasound imaging.
Ultrasound imaging can also be used in the diagnosis of certain conditions. It is used to examine conditions related to organs such as the bladder, ovaries, spleen, kidneys, liver, thyroid, uterus, testicles, eyes and blood vessels. However, using sonography for diagnosis and treatment has its limitations.
Ultrasound tests are usually painless since they do not involve making incisions or getting injections. The ultrasound imaging is also safe as there is no radiation involved. Thus, it is ideal to examine the fetus during pregnancy. For a sonography, the doctor might recommend a12 hour fast and sufficient consumption of water before the test.
In an external ultrasound, the transducer is moved over the body part that requires examining. The ultrasound technician will first apply a gel over the area being examined. This gel lubricates the skin and the transducer is placed over the uterus to examine the fetus. This test can also be used to examine the gallbladder to detect a gallbladder disease or to examine a lump in the breast to diagnose cancer.
In an internal ultrasound, a transducer wand is used to probe the vagina for women and the rectum for men. This ultrasound imaging test helps in the diagnosis of abnormalities of the genitals. It is also used to diagnose certain types of cancer like that of the reproductive organs. Doctors use an internal ultrasound to examine the ovaries, uterus, certain glands or the prostate.
The third type of ultrasound imaging is conducted using a transducer probe. This endoscope is inserted through the mouth to probe the esophagus and examine it along with the stomach or the heart. The doctor will provide a sedative medication so that the patient does not feel any discomfort or pain during the procedure.
The procedure lasts from 30 to 45 minutes. After the examination is complete, the technician or doctor will wipe away the gel to end the procedure.
In the following cases, the doctor will recommend an ultrasound test:
An ultrasound examination is usually a relatively painless procedure that can be safely used even for a fetus in the womb. There are very few times that an ultrasound may not be recommended.
For instance, if a patient is overweight, the imaging may be unclear. This occurs because it is difficult for the high-frequency sound waves to pass through the excess of tissue. In these cases, the doctor might recommend an MRI or an X-ray instead.
The sound waves weaken as they pass through bones of high density. Thus, to examine the insides of the bone structure, an ultrasound might not suffice. The doctor will use another type of imaging equipment.
With an ultrasound, there is no exposure to ionizing radiation. Therefore, patients are rarely at risks with an ultrasound test. In external ultrasounds, the patients do not experience any side effect. However, the possible side effects of an internal ultrasound are a pain, discomfort and minor risk of internal bleeding. On the whole, ultrasound tests are safe.
The procedure of an ultrasound takes approximately half an hour after which you will be able to leave and resume activities. The results of the test will then be interpreted and revealed to you, either by a general physician or a trained ultrasound technician. If this test helps to diagnose the condition, the doctor will then suggest commencing the treatment process.
If the condition requires further evaluation, the trained medical professional will then recommend that you undergo other tests such as an X-ray, MRI or CT scan. Then based on the findings from these tests along with the ultrasound, your condition will be diagnosed. Follow-up examinations might be recommended to monitor any alteration in the condition.
The ultrasound procedure is a medical imaging test with little to no risks or complications. Hence, there is no recovery process. You can resume normal activities as soon as the procedure is complete.
The price of an ultrasound exam in India ranges from Rs 1000 to Rs 3000.
An ultrasound exam is a medical test. This procedure is used in diagnostics but does not treat conditions. Therefore, there can be neither a permanent nor a temporary result.
In some cases, an ultrasound might not provide a clear enough image and it has certain limitations. The doctor might recommend an X-ray, MRI, PET or CT scan as an alternative.