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Ultrasounds, also called sonograms, are a type of radiography that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body.
What are ultrasounds used for?
Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound to monitor the uterus and developing baby during pregnancy, or to diagnose conditions ranging from heart disease to intestinal blockages.
What’s the difference between 4D and 3D ultrasounds?
3D ultrasounds create lifelike, 3-dimensional images, whereas 4D ultrasounds string images together to produce a video.
Protocols are the details and plans that describe how a specific procedure will be performed. For Ultrasound scans, this usually means whether the imaging is performed with or without contrast. However, certain body parts may include other protocol options as well.
If you already have a referral, the type of protocol you need should be written directly on it. If you don’t have a referral, you can book one through Tripment Health.
Complete – Complete ultrasounds examine all the organs and major veins associated with the abdomen — gallbladder, common bile duct, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, abdominal aorta, and inferior vena cava.
Complete with Doppler – A Dopplar ultrasound is used to detect bloodflow.
Limited – Limited ultrasounds focus on one area (or on the fetus) to answer a specific question (such as, where is an embryo located and whether or not the fetus is viable).
Limited Single Organ / Quadrant – Limited or quadrant ultrasounds focus on the liver, pancreas, right kidney, and gallbladder.
OB/Gyn – These types of ultrasounds focus on the female pelvic region. They are often ordered during pregnancy, or to check for abnormalities with reproductive organs.
First Trimester (<14 Weeks) – This is done to see the size, location, gestational age, and number of fetuses during pregnancy.
Second and Third Trimester (>14 Weeks) – These ultrasounds are done after the thirteenth week of pregnancy ends. They are used to detect fetal abnormalities, evaluate fetal cardiac health, and the health of the placenta and amniotic fluid.
OB Follow-up (Reevaluate Fetal Size and Organ System) – This type of ultrasound is used to further evaluate the health of the fetus and his/her organs.
OB Limited (Fetal Heartbeat, Placental and Fetal Position) – This type of ultrasound is used to further evaluate the cardiac health and position of the fetus, and the health of the mother’s placenta.
OB Transvaginal – In this type of ultrasound, the ultrasound wand is inserted in the vagina to get a clear view of the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and uterus.
Bladder Only – This is used to detect bladder tumors (cancers), stones, or diverticula, or other bladder abnormalities.
Pelvic Complete (non-obstetric) – For women, a pelvic ultrasound can be used to detect abnormalities in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, vagina, and cervix. For men, it is most often used to see the bladder, urinary tract, and prostate.
Pelvic Complete with Transvaginal – In this type of ultrasound, the ultrasound wand is inserted in the vagina to get a clear view of the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and uterus.
Pleural Effusion – Thoracic ultrasounds for pleural effusion can help providers see a pleural effusion as well as differentiate between different types. Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid surrounding the lungs, and is most frequently caused by heart failure.
Prostate (Non-transrectal) – This type of ultrasound is used to diagnose issues with the prostate, including prostate cancer. It examines the prostate and surrounding tissues.
Renal Artery – The renal arteries supply blood to your kidneys. This is an abdominal ultrasound that examines the blood flow in the arteries surrounding your kidneys.
Scrotum and Contents (Testicles) – This protocol examines the testicles, scrotum, and epididymis, to search for abnormalities.
Soft Tissues (Thyroid, Parathyroid, Parotid) – This protocol examines the soft tissues in the neck, including salivary glands, lymph glands, and thyroid gland. It is performed to check for lumps and other abnormalities.
Spinal Canal and Contents – Spinal ultrasounds can help detect degenerative disc disease and other spinal disorders, including spinal cysts or masses.
Bilateral (Venous) – These are used to look for blood clots and other disorders of the veins, especially in the legs. A bilateral venous ultrasound examines both sides of the body.
Unilateral (Venous) – These are used to look for blood clots and other disorders of the veins, especially in the legs. A unilateral venous ultrasound examines one side of the body.
Transvaginal – In this type of ultrasound, the ultrasound wand is inserted in the vagina to get a clear view of the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and uterus.
How do I prepare for an ultrasound?
Typically, you won’t need to do anything special to prepare for an ultrasound. However, certain ultrasounds may come with special instructions. Gallbladder ultrasounds require you to fast for a few hours, while pelvic ultrasounds may require you to drink extra water to fill your bladder.
Diagnostic imaging can find fractures and broken bones, reveal infections and certain cancers before they spread, and help you live a longer, healthier life. Most diagnostic imaging services require a referral. Let us help you find one!
Most clinics wait until at least the sixth week of pregnancy before performing the first ultrasound.
A doctor might order this test to investigate symptoms relating to the blood vessels in the abdomen, gallbladder, intestines, kidneys, liver, pancreas, or spleen. An ultrasound can assess the cause of stomach pain or bloating, as well as check for liver disease, kidney stones, tumors, or other abdominal conditions. An abdominal ultrasound might also be ordered for a patient at risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Yes, an ultrasound can detect infection. Certain types of ultrasounds can capture a patient’s blood flow. Increased blood flow can, in some cases, indicate infection.
This depends on the area of the body being tested. For some abdominal tests that require the patient to fast, eating before the exam can compromise the clarity of the images. For pregnancy exams, doctors may recommend the patient drink water before the procedure so that the ultrasound images will be more clear.
Ultrasounds can only show soft tissue, not actual structures. MRIs can show soft tissue, joints, bones, etc., and also produce a more detailed image. Both are accurate, but their effectiveness depends on what the doctor is looking for.
The scanned images show up immediately on the ultrasound machine’s screen. The sonographer will most likely give immediate feedback and a summary of the results. A written report of the test is typically created later and sent to your doctor.
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