What is Ultrasound?
An ultrasound scan is a radiological investigation that can be used in a variety of situations.
As the name suggests, the scan is performed using sound waves that bounce and reflect off different substances within the body and return to the probe. Depending on the speed of return and strength of the soundwave (wave strength diminishes with distance) and image is recreated on the screen giving us a picture the body’s internal organs.
Most substances within the body exhibit a degree of sound reflectivity and sound transmittance allowing us to see that particular substance as well as what is behind it. Substances such as water or other fluid-like substances transmit sound very well and give us very clear images. However, certain substances such as air, bone and metal reflect sound very well but do not allow much to transfer through. This means that any structures lying below or deeper will be obscured on the screen.
The most important thing about ultrasound is that there is no radiation involved (unlike xrays or CTs) and so there is almost no risk involved. To date there have been no studies to show that there are any dangers of using the soundwaves of ultrasound.
The last point to make about ultrasound is that it is cheaper than other radiological studies, it can be quick and is easily accessible. Ultrasound has its advantages over other scanning techniques such as CT and MRI; the former is expensive and involves radiation so must be used with discretion, the latter is radiation free but is very expensive.
What can it be used for?
Ultrasound can be used for a variety of problems. In fact there are so many applications that it would be difficult to list them all here. Examples would include:
- Lumps and bumps under the skin.
- Liver, gallbladder and kidneys abnormality screening.
- Scanning for uterine and ovarian abnormality.
- Scanning the scrotum in case of testicular pain or even as part of a fertiity screen.
Ultrasound can even be used for scanning the neck and thyroid gland in case of any neck swelling.
The above examples are just a few of the possible applications of ultrasound. The best thing to do is visit our clinic (preferably at Somerset, which is where we have our ultrasound machine) and bring any questions you have and we will do our best to answer them.
Till next time!
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