Ultrasound – what is it used for?

Ultrasound scanning, also known as ultra sound imaging or sonography, is simply the use of a small probe and ultrasound gel to get pictures of inside the body by sending high frequency sound waves. It is used by physicians as a medical test to treat and diagnose medical conditions. In addition, many pregnant women use it to check the health and status of their fetus and detect any health problems early. It is a beneficial noninvasive safe test and can be found in most hospitals.


What is ultrasound used for?

Ultrasound systems are generally used to look at internal organs of the body, including the liver, spleen, heart, pancreas, bladder, kidney, uterus, ovaries, and fetus. They also help test risk of pregnancies, determine fetal age and sex, detect placental and fetal abnormalities, structural problems and find other abnormalities.

The test is also used to guide various medical procedures such as needle biopsies, in which sample cells are extracted with needles from inside the body to be used for laboratory testing and biopsy which is used to treat breast cancer. Doppler ultrasound images help the physician to test narrowing of blood vessels, tumors, congenital vascular malformation and blood clots. Other symptoms like swelling, pain and infections are also evaluated.


What are the benefits for ultrasound?

Some of the many benefits of using ultrasound include:

  • The procedure does not involve needles and injections
  • It is widely available in most hospitals and fairly affordable It is extremely safe since, unlike x-rays, no ionizing radiations are omitted
  • Produces real time imaging of the fetus It is not painful, although in some cases can be slightly uncomfortable

How is the procedure done?

When going for the test, it is advisable to wear loose fitting comfortable clothes. After positioning yourself on the examination table, the sonographer applies warm gel on your skin and then places the transducers against your body to capture the images. Usually, no pressure and discomfort is felt unless the transducers is inserted in an opening on the body, then slight discomfort might be experienced. On completion, the gel is wiped off and one can immediately resume their daily normal activities.

According to research, there are three main factors to be considered when taking an ultrasound test:

  1. The duration of ultrasound exposure should not be more than 30 minutes. This is due to the increase in exposure of ultrasound waves in the extended time. The longer the test, the more sound waves exposed to the fetus. Since not enough research has been done on the effects of waves to the fetus, the sessions are limited just to be safe.
  2. The intensity of ultrasound waves should not be too high to affect body cells. As a result, FDA standards have been established and should be mechanically set to the machine not to exceed them.
  3. The frequency of ultrasound sessions is recommended to be kept to the minimum, with intervals of at least one month.

In recent times, various scanning modes with new features have been developed. The latest release is the 4D ultrasound which works by sending waves at different angles to get multidimensional pictures of the fetus in real time. These modes have increased clinical capabilities help get important medical information. Surely, ultrasound imaging is a must get test for every pregnant woman, since it helps one feel more confident and know what to expect.


Kerry Blake is an IT expert who writes on several blogs and forums. Always trying to be helpful and informative.

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