Ultrasound technology and its uses
Ultrasound technology is one of the safest imaging techniques used to obtain detailed internal images of the body. Unlike other imaging techniques, such as X-rays, ultrasound technology is very safe and does not emit harmful radiation. Another aspect which makes ultrasound different from other imaging techniques is that ultrasound images can be seen in real-time. This means that ultrasounds have the ability to show the movement of blood through blood vessels and more.
Ultrasound is used for a variety of purposes, including the following:
Pregnancy- Ultrasounds are the preferred imaging technique used to check on the health of the fetus. This is because they pose no harm to the unborn baby. Through ultrasound, doctors are able to diagnose some conditions in babies before they are born, such as congenital heart defects and cerebral palsy. In addition to this, carrying out regular ultrasounds helps doctors see whether the baby is growing properly and has an active heartbeat. This means that should anything go wrong, doctors can immediately intervene and start treatment or another appropriate course of action.
Cancer- Ultrasounds are used to diagnose a number of cancers, including breast and kidney cancer. In mammography, or breast imaging, ultrasounds are used to see the potential location of a malignant tumour. Ultrasound waves interact differently with cancerous tissue as this tissue is usually firmer than surrounding tissues. This means that cancerous areas appear darker, and the sonographer (ultrasound technician) is able to take images of these to help with diagnosis.
Kidney and gall bladder stones- Ultrasound technology is the main diagnostic tool used to diagnose kidney and gall bladder stones. Patients with this issue need to have the stones removed as soon as possible as complications can arise. In addition to this, stones cause an immense amount of pain and severely disrupt a sufferer's life. Ultrasound helps doctors to see these stones so that doctors can decide when it is appropriate to operate.
Preparing for an ultrasound
Normally there is no preparation for ultrasounds. However, for some types of ultrasounds, such as in pregnancy, patients may be required to drink lots of water to ensure clearer images are produced. Additionally, those patients getting an ultrasound in the abdomen region may be required to eat only fat-free meals a day before the ultrasound and fast at least 12 hours before the ultrasound.
In order to get a referral for an ultrasound, you need to see a doctor.