Ultrasound is defined as sound waves above the range of human hearing. When used to diagnose disease, Ultrasound sound waves are sent into the human body by an instrument called a transducer. Each time a sound wave hits and internal organ, some of the sound is reflected back out of the body to the transducer. The returning sound waves produce the real time image you see on the ultrasound monitor.
Ultrasound is used to look at internal organs like the gall bladder and liver. It is used to look at fetuses and assess their wellbeing. It is used to examine blood vessels in the arterial and venous systems and to guide physicians with procedures such as biopsies.
Depending upon the area being examined, patients may be instructed to refrain from eating and consuming fluids. Patients may be asked to fast for eight hours or to drink a certain amount of clear fluid prior to the ultrasound. The length of the ultrasound varies from 30 minutes to an hour. Patient may be asked to wear a gown.
Routinely during ultrasound examinations, patient will lie on a padded table, but they may be asked to turn or lay in different positions so certain images can be obtained. Ultrasound examinations are performed by Sonographers, who apply a water soluble gel to the area of your body they are required to image. Pressure may also be applied to the area of interest so the sonographer can see structures better.
After the sonographer has acquired all the necessary images, the images are discussed with a physician called a Radiologist. There may be a waiting period after the ultrasound is completed. Sometimes additional images are needed.