Ultrasound Scans Printer Friendly Format [DOC]

Other common names:

  • Ultrasound scan
  • Abdominal Ultrasound
  • Sonography
  • Doppler Ultrasoun
  • Sonogram
  • Echocardiogram

Description:  Ultrasound imaging uses high frequency sound waves that pass through your body. The sound waves are reflected or bounced off internal organs and tissues, and the waves are recorded and displayed by a computer. Ultrasound imaging works on the same principle as sonar, a technique to detect underwater objects used by both ships at sea looking for submarines and anglers looking for fish.

Ultrasound scanners usually consist of a computer, video screen, and transducer. The transducer is a small, handheld device about the size of a bar of soap, attached to the scanner by a cord. The transducer generates the sound waves and detects them when they are reflected.   

Most ultrasound exams are done by moving the transducer on your skin over the area to be examined. Some, however, are done inside your body (invasive ultrasound). For these, a special transducer attached to the end of a probe is inserted into a body opening.

Examples of Uses:
Ultrasound can be used to view, monitor, or diagnose

  • abdominal organs   
  • the heart                
  • blood flow                         
  • pregnancy                                      
  • muscles and tendons
  • soft tissue of any part of the body

Because ultrasound provides real-time images, it also can be used to guide procedures, such as a biopsy, in which a needle is used to obtain cells from an abnormal area for laboratory testing.

Preparation:  Wear comfortable, loose clothing. Additional preparation depends on the type of ultrasound exam you will have. Your physician will advise you of any specific preparations needed.

During the Exam:  You will be asked to lie on an exam table. The technologist, or person performing the exam, will apply a water-based gel to the area being examined to help the transducer more easily move over the skin. The technologist will press the transducer firmly against the skin and move it back and forth to obtain an image of the area.  Most ultrasound exams are quick, easy, and painless.

Time Required:  20 to 60 minutes.

Noise During Exam:  None.

Space During Exam:  You will lie on an exam table, usually in a small exam room.


  • Ultrasound scanning is noninvasive.
  • Ultrasound uses no ionizing radiation
  • Using real-time imaging makes ultrasound a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies.
  • Ultrasound is easy to use and widely available.

There are no known harmful effects for standard diagnostic ultrasound exams.

A radiologist, who is a physician with specialized training in ultrasound and other imaging tests, will analyze and interpret the results of your exam and then send a report to your personal physician. It usually takes a day or so to interpret, report, and deliver the results. Contact your personal physician for information on the results of your ultrasound.

For further info: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/


 An Ultrasound Machine

An Ultrasound Image of the Breast


The development of lay imaging descriptions is a project of the 
American College of Radiology Imaging Network
Patient Advocacy Committee.