Most people are familiar with ultrasound imaging being used for checking the development of a baby as it grows in the womb. These are often the first pictures parents have of their child. Ultrasound imaging is a preventive health care service that is also used to diagnose a wide variety of health issues. It can be used to help evaluate:
- Abdominal tissues and organs
- The fragility of bone
- Breast tissue
- Fetal heart rate
- Blood flow through blood vessels or organs
- Heart tissue
- Ocular structures
It can also be used to guide needle placement for biopsies to collect tissue samples, or for placing a needle in a blood vessel or elsewhere.
A Safe Diagnostic Tool
Ultrasound imaging does not have the same risks as other types of imaging systems. Rather than the ionizing radiation involved in X-rays, ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves that produce a visible image on a screen. Although it is deemed a safe diagnostic tool, ultrasound waves may slightly heat the tissues, or in some instances, create small pockets of gas in tissue or body fluids.
Ultrasound and Pregnancy
This is the most popular imaging method to check on the health and growth of a baby during pregnancy. Parents have an opportunity to see their unborn child and hear the heartbeat. Bonding also takes place as parents view their baby.
Since the long-term effects of ultrasound are not known, The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and other organizations recommend that it be used sparingly during pregnancy. Keepsake pictures and videos of unborn children can be made during checkups when the doctor orders imaging, but they are discouraged if requested when there is no medical purpose.
Identifying Underlying Causes
Ultrasound, or sonography, is often used to help identify problems with internal organs. This can include swelling, infection or inflammation. It helps identify issues with the gall bladder, bile ducts, liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys and large blood vessels. In areas of the body such as the stomach and bowels that contain air, there is not enough structure for the soundwaves to bounce off, so ultrasound imaging is not used for these organs.
Ultrasound imaging can be used to help find problems impacting the female reproductive system. It is often used for scanning the pelvic area to check for fibroids or cysts and other conditions affecting the female organs.
At the office of Dr. Brent J. Michael, we leave no stone unturned when it comes to our patients’ health. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.