What is an Ultrasound Scan?
An ultrasound scan, also known as a sonogram, is an imaging technique that makes use of high-frequency sound waves to create images of various structures inside the body. It can provide information to help in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of medical conditions.
Types of Ultrasound Scans
Depending on the part of the body being evaluated, ultrasound scans can be classified into different types:
- External Ultrasound Scan: This method is generally used to examine various heart conditions or to monitor an unborn baby in the womb. Other organs in the abdomen and pelvis such as the kidneys and liver can also be examined. The procedure involves moving a probe on the skin over the part of the body to be monitored.
- Internal Ultrasound Scan: This method allows your doctor to look more closely inside the body, mainly at organs such as the prostate gland, ovaries, or the womb. In this method, the probe is inserted into the body to obtain detailed images of the region to be monitored.
- Endoscopic Ultrasound Scan: This method involves the use of an endoscope, which is inserted into the body, generally through the mouth, to obtain information on the stomach or oesophagus regions.
Indications for an Ultrasound Scan
An ultrasound scan may be used for:
- Obtaining a view of the uterus and ovaries during pregnancy
- Monitoring the health of a baby in the womb
- Diagnosing gallbladder disease
- Evaluating blood flow
- Guiding needle position for obtaining a biopsy or for tumour treatment
- Examining breast lumps
- Examining your thyroid gland
- Detecting various genital and prostate problems
- Assessing joint inflammation
- Evaluating metabolic bone disease
Preparation for an ultrasound Scan
You will usually be provided with a set of instructions to prepare for the ultrasound scan to ensure clear images are obtained. This includes:
- Drinking plenty of water and not going to the toilet until after the test completion. This is required in the case of pelvic region scans and pregnancy scans.
- Avoiding drinking or eating for several hours before a scan in case of the digestive system, liver, or gallbladder scans.
- Removing or changing your clothes depending on the region to be scanned.
Procedure of Ultrasound Scan
- The examination table will be set up for you to lie on.
- The region to be examined will be prepared by applying ultrasound gel to prevent the development of air pockets, which may block the sound signals. Generally, water-based gels are used for this process and the gel can be easily removed once the scan is complete.
- A sonographer places the transducer device, which generates the sound waves, on the skin above the area to be scanned and moves it around the region until the necessary images can be obtained.
- The transducer receives the reflected waves which bounce off structures within the body and sends the information to a computer, which generates an image based on this data.
- You will be allowed to leave soon after the test is completed.
- The results of the ultrasound scan will be made known to you immediately after the procedure or after the results are evaluated by your doctor.