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Health Encylopedia

Definition An ultrasound creates images that allow various organs in the body to be examined. The ultrasound machine sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off body structures to create a picture. There is no ionizing radiation exposure with this test.
Alternative Names Sonogram
How the test is performed The test is done in the ultrasound or radiology department. You will be lying down for the procedure. A clear, water-based conducting gel is applied to the skin over the area being examined to help with the transmission of the sound waves. A hand-held probe, called a transducer, is then moved over the area being examined. You may be asked to change position so that other areas can be examined. For specific information about ultrasound examinations, please refer to the following topics:
  • Pregnancy ultrasound
  • Duplex/Doppler ultrasound
  • Doppler/ultrasound of the heart
  • Doppler ultrasound exam of an arm or leg
  • Duplex Doppler/ultrasound exam of an arm or leg
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Thyroid ultrasound
  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • Testicle ultrasound
  • How to prepare for the test
  • Preparation for the procedure will depend on the body region being examined.
  • How the test will feel There is generally little discomfort with ultrasound procedures. The conducting gel may feel slightly cold and wet.
    Why the test is performed The reason for the examination will depend on your symptoms.
    Normal Values A normal result is when the organs in the region being examined are normal in appearance.
    What abnormal results mean The significance of abnormal results will depend on the body region being examined and the nature of the problem. You should consult your health care provider with any questions and concerns.
    What the risks are There are no documented risks. No ionizing radiation exposure is involved.
    Special considerations Most ultrasound examinations are performed in the manner described. However, certain circumstances require that the ultrasound probe be inserted into the body, rather than simply passing it over the skin. Consult your health care provider to determine the specifics of your test.