Sometimes called sonography, ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to create pictures of organs, veins and arteries, or an unborn baby. During an ultrasound procedure, a microphone-like instrument called a transducer is scanned over the skin where it sends sound waves into the body. The sound waves bounce off of tissue and reflect back to the transducer, where they are recorded and displayed as real-time images.
Sonograms are commonly used during pregnancy to monitor the growth and development of a baby. They are also used to evaluate the body’s circulatory system by helping to monitor blood flow to organs and tissues throughout the body. This can help physicians locate abnormalities in various organs, narrowed arteries, clotted veins, or growths such as tumors or cysts.
Having an ultrasound is easy, painless, and uses no ionizing radiation. During the exam, you will be asked to lie on a table while a clear gel that improves contact between the transducer and the skin is applied to the area being examined. The sonographer will move the transducer back and forth over the skin to capture the images. Most procedures are completed in 30 minutes to an hour.