When we think of ultrasound, we typically associate it with pregnancy. The ultrasound is a common procedure used during pregnancy to check the health of the baby, discover the baby’s gender, and provide expecting parents with a picture of their little one in utero.
But ultrasound can also be utilized in other instances and has many beneficial medical applications. Ultrasound can be used to diagnose, evaluate, and monitor many conditions throughout the body.
What is an ultrasound, exactly?
An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves, waves greater than 20000Hz, which can’t be heard by humans, but can be detected by some animals, including cats, dogs, bats, whales, dolphins, and certain fish.
During an ultrasound procedure, an instrument called a transducer emits high-frequency sound waves that travel into the body, to the various tissues and organs. The transducer records the echoes of the sounds to then create images of the various organs and tissues that are then displayed on a computer screen. These images show what’s happening in the body. They’re then examined and interpreted by ultrasound technicians, also known as sonographers.
Let’s take a look at three circumstances under which ultrasound can be beneficial:
Many obstetricians use ultrasound during pregnancy to determine the baby’s due date, first and foremost. Some use an ultrasound to determine gender of the baby, and it’s also frequently used to check the health of the fetus as it grows in the womb. As time goes on, you can see whether birth defects are present, how big the baby is, and if there are breech issues to prepare for during childbirth.
In this day and age, an ultrasound is a almost a given for women to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy and childbirth. This type of ultrasound is safe for both mom and baby as sound waves used here are low-tier, meaning they have a small amplitude and low energy. Therefore, an ultrasound is always used as opposed to X-rays, which can damage living cells.
Diagnosing conditions and diseases
Doctors also frequently turn to ultrasounds to diagnose a wide variety of maladies. Ultrasounds work best for diagnosing issues that arise within the soft tissues and organs of the body. The heart, blood vessels, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen, kidneys, uterus, ovaries, testicles, thyroid, and even eyes — these are all organs and tissues that can benefit from the diagnostic abilities of ultrasound.
Ultrasound can be used to detect soft tissue disorders such as cysts, tumors, abscesses, obstructions, or infections. Ultrasound can be especially useful for detecting heart defects or liver problems, and measuring blood flow in arteries and veins throughout the body.
During medical procedures and therapeutic applications
Doctors often utilize ultrasound during specific procedures. One of the most common is a needle biopsy. In this case, tissue is removed from a precise or tiny area for further testing.
An ultrasound typically last for a half hour, although different types of ultrasounds apply to different applications. Your doctor will know what’s best, and give you proper treatment going forward.
OB/GYN Associates of Alabama offers the latest in ultrasound technology. Our digitally enhanced ultrasound system provides images of outstanding detail and clarity, ease of operation for faster procedures, and an innovative design for added patient comfort. Both obstetrical and gynecological ultrasounds can be scheduled at the time of your visit.
Contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment.