Diagnostic ultrasound, also called sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, is an imaging method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body. The images can provide valuable information for diagnosing and treating a variety of diseases and conditions.
Most ultrasound examinations are done using a sonar device outside your body, though some ultrasound examinations involve placing a device inside your body.
During an ultrasound exam, you may need to remove jewelry and some or all of your clothing, change into a gown, and lie on an examination table. Gel is applied to your skin to keep air pockets that can block the sound waves from forming.
The Radiologist presses a small, hand-held device (transducer),against your skin over the area being examined, moving it as necessary to capture the image. The transducer sends sound waves into your body, collects sound waves that bounce back and sends them to a computer, which creates the images.
Some ultrasounds are done inside your body. A transducer is attached to a probe that's inserted into a natural opening in your body. Examples of these exams include:
Ultrasound is usually painless. However, you may experience mild discomfort as the sonographer guides the transducer over your body, especially if you're required to have a full bladder.
A typical ultrasound exam takes from 30 minutes to an hour.
When your exam is complete, a physician trained to interpret imaging studies (radiologist) analyzes the images and sends a report to your doctor. Your doctor will share the results with you.
You should be able to return to normal activities immediately after an ultrasound.