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Ultrasound, or ultrasonography, is a common imaging exam. Unlike X-rays, ultrasound does not expose you to radiation. Instead, it uses painless sound waves to create pictures of the inside of your body.
There are three types of ultrasounds:
At Dignity Health, we perform prompt, thorough emergency ultrasound in Arizona at a state-of-the-art hospital near you. Use our online InQuicker™ tool to select your estimated arrival time to one of our emergency rooms.
Ultrasound is an invaluable tool in helping emergency doctors triage and diagnose injuries and illness. In an emergency, ultrasonography can help doctors:
During an ultrasound, a technologist guides a small device, called a transducer, over the skin of the examination area. A water-based gel helps the transducer maintain contact with your skin. A radiologist will interpret the results and share them with your emergency room doctor. The results of the ultrasound will help the doctor make a diagnosis and recommend additional testing or treatment.
There are no known risks of ultrasound. However, there is the possibility of a false-positive or false-negative result. A false positive is when the ultrasound is interpreted as showing a problem that isn’t there. A false negative result is when ultrasound misses a problem that is present. The quality and accuracy of an ultrasound depends upon the skill of both the sonographer and the doctor interpreting the images.
Ultrasound typically takes from 30 minutes to an hour. During the exam, you may feel pressure as the transducer moves over your skin. Some types of exams use a probe to see inside the body. Examples are a transvaginal or transrectal ultrasound. You may have some discomfort with these exams.
There is no recovery necessary from the ultrasound itself. You may need additional imaging tests to give your doctor more information or to confirm initial results.