Ultrasounds: The Inside View
By Krista Elliott
At some point in your life, you may have been told that you'll need an ultrasound. Or maybe you're scheduled for one soon and don't quite know what to expect. What is an ultrasound? Why are they used? Are they safe? Get comfy, because we're about to get an inside view of ultrasounds.
What IS an Ultrasound?
Ultrasound uses sound waves to develop images of what's going on inside of your body. A special tool called a transducer sends sound waves into the body and then collects the waves that bounce back. This data creates an image called a sonogram. In most cases, the transducer is used externally, with a special ultrasound gel that helps the sound waves transmit more easily. For some procedures, the ultrasound is attached to a probe and inserted into a natural opening in the body, to get a better view of certain internal organs like the heart, prostate, or uterus.
Why is Ultrasound Used?
The neat thing about ultrasound is that it provides data in real time, giving healthcare providers an inside view, so to speak. Ultrasound is commonly used with pregnant women, giving a live view of the fetus, allowing doctors to get information on size, overall proportions, any structural issues, sex, and whether or not more than one fetus is present. With this early information, providers can more accurately estimate due dates and can also detect anomalies that may affect the health or viability of the fetus.
Ultrasounds may also be used in diagnosing a variety of conditions affecting internal organs and tissues. These include the bladder, uterus, testicles, ovaries, kidneys, heart, pancreas, thyroid, and more. Their real-time feedback provides surgeons with visual guidance during procedures requiring precision, such as a biopsies. In addition, ultrasound may also be used to diagnose and treat soft tissue injuries such as tendonitis.
Are Ultrasounds Safe?
Ultrasounds are often used in lieu of X-rays, primarily because ultrasounds do not expose the patient to any radiation. Painless and (usually) non-invasive, ultrasounds are a safe and relatively comfortable diagnostic tool that has the added benefit of being able to record real-time movement.
If you're scheduled for an ultrasound, be sure to ask what kind of ultrasound you are going for, whether or not it's going to be done externally or internally, if you have to fast beforehand, or if you need to load up on your water intake. Other than that, all you need to do is lay back, relax, and let the ultrasound provide your doctor with the information necessary to make the best decisions for your health.
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.