Why Do We Use Ultrasonography?

Medically Reviewed on 1/4/2022
Ultrasonography shows images of hollow or spongy internal organs, such as the heart, breast, blood vessels, and other organs.

Ultrasonography is a radiological imaging technique used by doctors to check the insides of the body.

Ultrasonography shows images of hollow or spongy internal organs, such as:

  • Heart
  • Blood vessels
  • Breast
  • Brain
  • Abdominal organs
  • Thyroid
  • Eyes
  • Muscles
  • Skin
  • Liver
  • Kidneys

The main purpose of using ultrasonography is to detect the presence of the following:

  • Tumors
  • Cysts
  • Abscesses
  • Abnormal size and shapes of the organs
  • Changes of the tissue within the organs
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Swelling
  • Infection
  • Internal bleeding
  • Visualize the flow of blood in the blood vessels
  • Visualize irregularities in heart sounds and pumping of the blood by the heart
  • Accumulation of fluid in the organs or within the cavities
  • Functions of the organs
  • Detection of pregnancy
  • Monitoring of the growth of the fetus
  • Detection of any growth or developmental abnormalities of the fetus
  • Ultrasound-guided extraction of tissue for biopsy
  • Ultrasound-guided extraction of fluid within the abdominal cavities or chest cavities

What is ultrasonography?

Ultrasonography, also known as sonography, is a noninvasive radiological imaging technique that shows the internal organs in the body by creating images with the help of reflected sound waves.

An ultrasonography scan can be used to monitor a developing infant, diagnose a problem, or guide a surgeon during specific surgical operations.

How does ultrasonography work?

Ultrasonography is done by using a special machine that has a screen and hand-held probe. 

  • Ultrasonography imaging is done by sending high-frequency sound waves into the body through the probe.
  • The doctor places the probe on the patient’s body where they intend to check.
  • Some sound waves revert to the probe, and a thin image is formed on the screen that is connected to the machine.
  • Some special ultrasonography machines form 3D images, which are very helpful to detect minimal abnormalities.

Sound waves are inaudible to us. As they are sent into the body, they bounce off different body parts, creating echoes that are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image, which is displayed on the screen while the doctor carries out the scan.

To scan the pelvic region, the doctor may advise the patient to drink plenty of water and hold their urine as much as possible in their urinary bladder to produce better images.

The doctor may advise the patient to not eat or drink a few hours before ultrasonography if the imaging is done to scan for abdominal organs, such as:

Sometimes, a special harmless chemical, known as a contrast, may be injected to produce better images.


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What are the advantages of ultrasonography?

Benefits of ultrasonography include:

  • Noninvasive
  • Safe in pregnancy
  • Less time to prepare the patient and perform the procedure; it may take 15 to 45 minutes
  • Used as the first line of diagnostic test or screening because it produces fast and accurate abnormalities to make a diagnosis
  • A high rate of success
  • Direct imaging of neuronal and anatomically nearby tissues
  • Direct view of needle insertion and local anesthetic administration
  • Individual blocks are less expensive than other regional anesthetic procedures

What is therapeutic ultrasonography?

Therapeutic ultrasonography uses sound waves that are above the range of human hearing to interact with tissues in the body to modify or destroy them.

  • Moving or pushing tissue, heating tissue, breaking blood clots, and administering medications to precise places in the body are all feasible changes used as treatment modalities.
  • These destructive, or ablative, activities are enabled by the employment of extremely high–intensity beams capable of destroying sick or aberrant tissues such as tumors. 

The benefit of using ultrasonic therapy is that they are usually noninvasive. No incisions or cuts to the skin are required, leaving no wounds or scars.

Medically Reviewed on 1/4/2022
General Ultrasound: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/genus

Ultrasound: https://www.nibib.nih.gov/science-education/science-topics/ultrasound