Ultrasound, also called sonography, is an exam that uses sound waves to obtain images of the inside of the body.
Ultrasound, also called sonography, is an exam that uses sound waves to obtain images of the inside of the body. These high-frequency sound waves are far above the range of human hearing. Sound waves are aimed at a particular area of the body. The different body tissues reflect the waves back in varying degrees. The echoed waves are recorded and displayed as a continuous real-time image on a computer monitor.
Ultrasound relies on sound waves rather than radiation to produce images, so it is ideal in many settings. It can be used to look at many organs and body parts to check for disease or abnormalities. It is also used during pregnancy to check the development of the fetus. Since the images are real-time, ultrasound has the benefit of allowing the radiologist to see organs and tissue in motion. This can be particularly useful for assessing the function of body parts and as imaging guidance when performing other procedures, such as a biopsy.
Some of the many conditions that ultrasound is used to diagnose are:
- Breast abnormalities
- Kidney Stones
- Enlarged thyroid or thyroid lump
- Uterine Fibroids
Ultrasound for Children
Ultrasound does not require a child to stay still for long periods of time as do other imaging techniques. Consequently, sedation is rarely needed. Also, the equipment used for an ultrasound is much less intimidating than the large and noisy scanners used for MRI and CT scans.
Babies are uniquely suited for diagnosis with ultrasound due to their small size and lack of structures that can block sound waves, such as mature bones. In fact, there are ultrasound examinations that can only be performed on babies and children. Pediatric radiologists routinely use these special techniques to see the brain, spinal cord, hips and stomach in newborns and infants.
Ultrasound is particularly useful in assessing abdominal pain in children. An abdominal ultrasound allows the pediatric radiologist to examine the liver, gallbladder, spleen, appendix, pancreas, intestines, kidneys and bladder.
Risks Involved in an Ultrasound
No radiation is used in this examination and there are no known health risks.
Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation
Contact your personal physician for a referral for this exam. Then call 720-493-3700 to schedule.
Ultrasounds are usually covered by insurance when ordered by a physician. Check with your insurance company to be sure. Please bring your insurance card with you to your exam.
Conditions to Let Us Know About
There are no conditions that you need to report prior to this exam.
While many ultrasounds require no advanced preparation; there are some that do. Following is information for more common ultrasound exams that do require preparation. You may receive additional or differing guidelines based on your specific situation. Please contact us at 720-493-3700 if you have any questions.
|Abdominal (Not Renal)||
|Pelvic||Full Bladder Exam
Support for Children
If your child is having the exam, it is important that you provide emotional support for him or her before and during the procedure. If your child is old enough to understand, explain the procedure to him or her. Let him or her know that the exam won’t hurt. Also reassure your child that you will be able to remain in the room during the exam.
What to Expect
During the Exam
Ultrasounds vary depending on the area of the body being imaged. However, here is generally what will happen:
- You may need to partially disrobe or change into a gown, depending on the type of ultrasound you are receiving. You may use a secure locker for your personal items during your exam.
- The sonographer will explain the procedure and answer any questions you have.
- The sonographer will position you on a table and apply a clear, warm gel to the skin. This gel helps the sound waves penetrate into your body.
- The sonographer will move the transducer (a handheld device that produces and records sound waves) across the area to be imaged while watching a continuous image on a computer screen. You won’t feel any pain during the procedure, but you may feel some mild discomfort.
- The sonographer will help you remove any remaining gel.
- You will change back into your clothes if necessary.
The sonographer may leave the room to show images to a radiologist. The radiologist may come in during the exam to watch the ultrasound or perform part of the exam personally.
An ultrasound can take from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the type and purpose of the ultrasound.
Following is more specific information for certain ultrasounds.
A pelvic ultrasound may require that a specially designed transducer be gently inserted into the vagina. This may be done instead of or in addition to an ultrasound over the skin in the pelvic area with a regular transducer. There may be mild discomfort from the pressure of the vaginal probe. If the pelvic ultrasound is being performed to image the uterus, saline may be injected into the uterus so the vaginal probe can get more detailed images of the uterine cavity. This is called a sonohysterogram.
With a prostate ultrasound, a specially designed transducer is gently inserted into the rectum. There may be mild discomfort from the pressure of the rectal probe.
Additional Measures for Children
If the patient is a child, two adults may be in the ultrasound room with him or her.
After the Exam
You can return to your normal activities immediately after your ultrasound exam.
A board-certified radiologist experienced in the interpretation of ultrasounds will analyze the data and results from your exam. If the patient is a child, the exam data will be analyzed by a radiologist experienced in the interpretation of pediatric ultrasounds. The results will be reported to your physician. Your physician will pass the results onto you.
During the exam, our radiologists and technologists will be happy to answer questions about the exam itself; however, they will not immediately provide you with the results of your exam.