An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of a person’s inner body structures. Doctors typically utilize ultrasound to research a growing fetus (unborn baby), a person’s abdominal and pelvic organs, muscles and tendons, or their heart and blood vessels. Other names to get an ultrasound scan include sonogram or (if imaging the center ) an echocardiogram.

The ultrasound machine directs high-frequency sound waves in the internal body structures being analyzed. The mirrored sounds, or echoes, are recorded to create an image that could be observed on a monitor. The sound waves are emitted and received from a tiny, hand-held probe. The high frequency of this audio means the human ear can’t hear it — that is why it is called ultrasound.

An ultrasound scan is usually non-invasive (done from outside the body). However, some scans are done with a special probe that’s inserted into the person’s vagina (for several obstetric or rectal exams ), rectum (for a few prostate exams ) or esophagus (for some heart examinations). Sometimes, doctors will use ultrasound scanning to monitor and guide invasive procedures like a biopsy of a person’s breast or thyroid gland.

Different uses of ultrasound scans

Doctors commonly use ultrasound for processes such as:

  • Abdominal scans — can be used to investigate abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, abnormal noises, and lumps. Structures that include air (such as the stomach and bowels) can’t be examined easily by ultrasound because air prevents the transfer of these sound waves
    pelvic scans — may be performed if a woman is afflicted pelvic pain or has abnormal periods, fibroids, cysts or other conditions linked to the female reproductive system
  • Pregnancy scans — used to check for fetal abnormalities (such as spina bifida), assess the era and position of a fetus, also monitor fetal growth and development. Undergoing an ultrasound scan is now considered routine for pregnant women in Australia
  • Other uses — musculoskeletal scans (to check regions like a shoulder, hip or elbow), breast scans (by way of example, to further investigate an abnormality picked up by physical exam or mammogram) and also a scan of a person’s eye (to check its internal arrangements ). A unique type of ultrasound scan also called a Doppler ultrasound, is utilized to detect the speed and direction of blood flow in certain regions of the human body, as an instance, neck arteries and leg veins.

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