The first thing most people think of when they hear the word “ultrasound” is a pregnant woman lying on an examination table and looking at an image of her unborn child. But that’s only one of the many diagnostic purposes of ultrasound technology.
For example, an ultrasound is often used to help doctors detect tumors in certain areas of the body that don’t show up on X-rays. It’s also used to guide instruments during a biopsy in which a small amount of fluid or tissue needs to be removed and studied under a microscope. During that type of procedure, the doctor watches the ultrasound screen while moving a needle toward and into a tumor or growth.
That’s because an ultrasound machine gives off high-frequency sound waves that go through the body and bounce off organs and tissues, producing echoes that create real-time images called sonograms. These images show an organ’s structure and movement in images displayed on the computer screen.
What Health Issues Can an Ultrasound Find?
In addition to pregnancy, ultrasound can be used to detect a wide range of digestive problems, including:
- Abnormal enlargement of the spleen
- Abnormal growths in the liver or pancreas
- Liver cancer
- Fatty liver disease
While ultrasound images are not as detailed as those gathered from CT (computerized tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, they are good at capturing images of certain soft-tissue diseases that are hard to find with an X-ray quickly and without exposing patients to radiation.
For some ultrasound exams, a transducer (a handheld wand) is pressed against and moved over the skin to deliver the sound waves to the organs. In other cases, the transducer is inserted into a bodily opening to get the highest-quality images.
The shape and intensity of an ultrasound echo depend on the density of the tissue being examined. For example, when the waves bounce off a solid tumor, they can create a pattern of echoes that the computer displays as a lighter-colored image.
Doppler vs. Ultrasound
Doppler flow machines are used to determine how quickly and in which direction blood flows through the vessels. This is necessary for detecting cancer, since blood flow in tumors is different from blood flow in normal tissue – and Doppler flow imaging makes it easier to detect whether cancer has spread into blood vessels.
Is Ultrasound Safe?
Ultrasound is a very safe, painless, noninvasive procedure that does not expose the patient or the operator to radiation, which makes it a preferred method if feasible. Since it doesn’t use radiation, ultrasound has little if any risk of complications.
Also, newer forms of ultrasound provide 3-D images, making it a highly effective diagnostic method that also usually costs much less than other imaging tests.
Ultrasound Center in Palm Beach County
The quality of the results of any type of scan often depends on the skill of the technologist or doctor who is operating the scanning device and conducting the procedure. At Independent Imaging, we provide state-of-the-art ultrasound that offers superior image quality and performance – accomplished by highly skilled practitioners.
To learn more about our ultrasound services or to request an appointment, call Independent Imaging today at (561) 795-5558, or use our online appointment request form now. We look forward to providing you with efficient, high-quality diagnostic services and scanning results.