Ultrasound , also known as sonography or ultrasonography, is a diagnostic imaging technique based on the use of high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the organs and structures inside the body. With these images we can measure the size of the organs, obtain data on their composition, discover focal lesions, space-occupying lesions and study the nature of these lesions, benign or malignant.
To obtain these images, the patient lies on the examination bed and we use an ultrasound device (ultrasound probe) that slides over the patient’s skin, with the help of a gel interposed between the probe and the skin. Once these waves are emitted towards the studied area, the transducer receives an echo and a computer converts this echo into the images used to diagnose.
What are ultrasounds for?
- Assess the growth of the developing baby ( Prenatal ultrasound)
- Assess the health of the uterus and ovaries in gynecological checks.
- Study of the gallbladder and its diseases such as the presence of stones, calculi (cholelithiasis) and inflammation of the gallbladder wall (cholecystitis).
- Study the biliary tract, choledochus and intrahepatic tract.
- Study of the liver, presence of fat (steatosis), alteration of liver enzymes (transaminases) and presence of focal lesions.
- Assessment of venous blood flow in order to rule out thrombosis (clots) in the veins of the limbs, as well as inflammatory changes in their walls (thrombophlebitis).
- Assess the presence of pleural fluid, fluid in the layers surrounding the lung.
- Study of breasts with high mammographic density, as well as breasts with study subsidiary nodules.
- Ultrasound also allows the needle to be guided to biopsy lesions, including for their treatment.
- Control of thyroid disease.
- The ultrasound makes it possible to assess the size of the prostate and its impact on urination.
- Assessment of synovial joint pathology.
- Study of muscular and tendinous pathology.
- Evaluation of adenopathies
- Study of the urinary tract for recurrent infections, urine bleeding, etc.
Ultrasound is a safe technique that does not use radiation, so it can be used without risk by pregnant women and children and can be repeated as often as necessary.
Sound does not transmit well through air or bone, therefore, to observe certain anatomical areas such as the skull, lungs or skeleton, other imaging techniques such as X-rays are required, computerized tomography (CT, scanner) or magnetic resonance imaging.
The vast majority of ultrasound examinations do not require preparation on the part of the patient. If the gallbladder or pancreatic area is to be studied, your doctor will ask you not to eat or drink for 6 hours before the scan. If you need a bladder or prostate examination, you are requested to attend the examination with a full bladder.
With regard to clothing, it is preferable to wear comfortable clothing that allows you to easily expose the body area to be explored.
During the scan, ultrasonic gel is used to prevent air from getting between the ultrasound source transducer and the skin. The ultrasonic gel is water-based and easy to remove after the scan.
Ultrasound is painless. In some cases, the passage of the transducer may be uncomfortable due to the slight pressure required.
Most ultrasounds do not require more than 10-15 minutes.