What is a Sonogram

What is a sonogram?

A sonogram (also called an ultrasonogram) is the visual image produced during an ultrasound examination. An ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create a sonogram picture of organs, tissues, and other structures inside the body. Unlike x-rays, ultrasounds don’t use any radiation. An ultrasound can also show parts of the body in motion, such as a heart beating or blood flowing through blood vessels.

There are two main categories of ultrasounds: pregnancy ultrasound and diagnostic ultrasound. 

  • Pregnancy ultrasound is used to look at an unborn baby. The test can provide information about a baby’s growth, development, and overall health of pregnant women.
  • Diagnostic ultrasound is used to view and provide information about other internal parts of the body. These include the heart, blood vessels, liver, bladder, kidneys, and female reproductive organs.

Other names for this procedure include sonogram, ultrasonography, pregnancy sonography, fetal ultrasound, obstetric ultrasound, diagnostic medical sonography, and diagnostic medical ultrasound.

What is it used for?

An ultrasound can be used in different ways, depending on the type of ultrasound and which part of the body is being checked.

A pregnancy ultrasound is done to get information about the health of an unborn baby. It may be used to:

  • Confirm that you are pregnant.
  • Check the size and position of the unborn baby.
  • Check to see you are pregnant with more than one baby.
  • Estimate how long you have been pregnant. This is known as gestational age.
  • Check for signs of Down syndrome, which include thickening in the back of the baby’s neck.
  • Check for birth defects in the brain, spinal cord, heart, or other parts of the body.
  • Check the amount of amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is a clear liquid that surrounds an unborn baby during pregnancy. It protects the baby from outside injury and cold. It also helps promote lung development and bone growth.

Diagnostic ultrasound may be used to:

  • Find out if blood is flowing at a normal rate and level.
  • See if there is a problem with the structure of your heart.
  • Look for blockages in the gallbladder.
  • Check the thyroid gland for cancer or non-cancerous growths.
  • Check for abnormalities in the abdomen and kidneys.
  • Help guide a biopsy procedure. A biopsy is a procedure that removes a small sample of tissue for testing.

In women, diagnostic ultrasound may be used to:

  • Look at a breast lump to see if it might be cancer. (The test may also be used to check for breast cancer in men, though this type of cancer is far more common in women.)
  • Help find the cause of pelvic pain.
  • Help find the cause of abnormal menstrual bleeding.
  • Help diagnose infertility or monitor infertility treatments.

In men, diagnostic ultrasound may be used to help diagnose disorders of the prostate gland.

How is an ultrasound performed?

A ultrasound usually includes the following steps:

  • You will lie on a table, exposing the area that’s being viewed.
  • A health care provider will spread a special gel on the skin over that area.
  • The provider will move a wand-like device, called a transducer, over the area.
  • The device sends sound waves into your body. The waves are so high pitched that you can’t hear them.
  • The waves are recorded and turned into images on a monitor.
  • You may be able to view the images as they are being made. This often happens during a pregnancy ultrasound, allowing you to look at your unborn baby.
  • After the test is over, the provider will wipe the gel off your body.
  • The test takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete.

In some cases, a pregnancy ultrasound may be done by inserting the transducer into the vagina. This is most often done early in pregnancy.

How to prepare for an ultrasound?

The steps you will take to prepare for an ultrasound will depend on the area or organ that is being examined.

Your doctor may tell you to fast for eight to 12 hours before your ultrasound, especially if your abdomen is being examined. Undigested food can block the sound waves, making it difficult for the technician to get a clear picture.

For an examination of the gallbladder, liver, pancreas, or spleen, you may be told to eat a fat-free meal the evening before your test and then to fast until the procedure. However, you can continue to drink water and take any medications as instructed. For other examinations, you may be asked to drink a lot of water and to hold your urine so that your bladder is full and better visualized.

Be sure to tell your doctor about any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or herbal supplements that you take before the exam.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and ask any questions you may have before the procedure. 

An ultrasound carries minimal risks. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, ultrasounds use no radiation. For this reason, they are the preferred method for examining a developing fetus during pregnancy.

To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.


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