How Does an Ultrasound Work?
An ultrasound is a safe, noninvasive test that creates detailed pictures of the inside of your body using high-frequency sound waves. Ultrasound technology captures images in real time and can reveal the movements and structure of your internal organs and blood flow.
Ultrasounds are used to diagnose the cause of pain, swelling, and infections in the internal organs. The technology also is used in specific treatments and to guide biopsies, diagnose heart conditions, and to examine a fetus during pregnancy.
During your ultrasound, you lie on a medical bed, and your doctor or sonographer -- an ultrasound specialist -- places a warm gel on your skin. They then pass a transducer over your body to view the inside.
Sound waves are transmitted from the transducer through the gel and into your body, where the transducer collects the reverberating sounds. A computer uses the sound waves to produce an image.
What are the Different Types of Ultrasounds?
There are many types of ultrasounds. The Louisiana Women’s Healthcare providers offer gynecologic and obstetric ultrasounds and 2-D and 3-D technology.
- Gynecologic Ultrasound: A gynecologic ultrasound refers to imaging of the female pelvic organs, such as the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. A pelvic ultrasound is a diagnostic exam that’s done in one of two ways: transvaginal and transabdominal. During a transabdominal ultrasound, the transducer is placed on the abdomen, and during a transvaginal ultrasound, a long, thin transducer covered with a special gel, and a latex or plastic sheath is inserted into the vagina. Louisiana Women’s Healthcare also offers breast ultrasounds and hysterosonography, involving the slow infusion of a sterile saline solution into the uterus during ultrasound imaging.
- Obstetric Ultrasound: An obstetric ultrasound allows your doctor to check on the health of your baby and reveal the gender. Ultrasounds for sex determination are available starting 16 weeks into your pregnancy. The Louisiana Women’s Healthcare team treats high-risk pregnancies and offers biophysical profiles, nuchal translucency testing — to check for chromosomal abnormalities — and Doppler blood flow studies to assess fetal well-being.
What are the Benefits of Ultrasounds?
Among the many benefits of ultrasound technology are:
- A clear picture of the soft tissues
- Doesn’t involve needles or injections
- Quick, convenient, and painless imaging
- Completely safe and doesn’t use radiation
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