What is an ultrasound scan?
Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create pictures of the inside of the body.
It can show internal organs as well as blood flow, and as a result ultrasound is used to look for any changes in organs and tissue.
Having an ultrasound
For an ultrasound scan you will be asked to lie on a table, usually facing upwards. A clear gel will be applied to the area of the body being examined, which helps the machine to make secure contact with the body. The radiographer will move part of the machine over the area of interest to get a picture.
Ultrasound is used for a variety of investigations
An echocardiogram is a specialised ultrasound scan of the heart which gives a range of information on the size, function and pressures of the heart, as well as information regarding the heart valves.
Ultrasound may be used to examine the prostate gland. It can help identify abnormal growths and whether or not the prostate is enlarged. Ultrasound can also be used to check for any abnormalities of the testes.
- Uterus, ovaries and breast
Ultrasound is used to look at the breast to identify any suspicious lumps. and to examine the uterus and ovaries for abnormalities.
- Other organs
Ultrasound is also used to help identify tumours, cysts or gallstones in organs such as the gall bladder, liver, kidneys, pancreas and bladder.
Ultrasound is used to look at the foetus during the early stages of pregnancy, to help assess its age, position and health, and the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby.
Ultrasound can help diagnose tears in muscles and tendons, look at bleeding or fluid in muscles and joints and examine ligaments and soft tissue.
- Assisting in complex surgical procedures
Ultrasound is also used to guide procedures such as needle biopsies as it produces a clear image of the affected area.