Frequently Asked Questions


What is an Ultrasound?
Ultrasound utilizes sound waves to obtain a medical image or picture of various organs and tissues in the body. It is a painless and safe procedure for patients. Ultrasound produces very precise images of your soft tissue (heart, blood vessels, uterus, bladder, etc.) and reveals internal motion such as your heart beat and blood flow. It can detect diseased or damaged tissues, locate abnormal growths and identify a wide variety of changing conditions, which enables our physicians to make a quick and accurate diagnosis.

What is a Doppler ultrasound?
A Doppler ultrasound is a risk free and painless noninvasive ultrasound test that estimates the blood flow through your blood vessels by bouncing high frequency sound waves off circulating red blood cells.  This type of ultrasound is used to view the veins and arteries of the abdominal organs, as well as, other vessels throughout the body.

Why has my doctor recommended an ultrasound?
There are a number of reasons why your doctor may have recommended an ultrasound procedure. Ultrasound is a safe, affordable, and non-invasive procedure that provides valuable information for diagnosing and treating a variety of diseases and conditions. Most people associate ultrasound as being used during pregnancy for the first glimpse of a developing baby in the womb, but doctors use ultrasound widely to gain advanced insight for a variety of reasons including things such as abdominal, breast, thyroid, soft-tissue, heart, and vascular problems.

What will the exam be like?
The technologist performing the ultrasound study is known as a sonographer. All technologists are highly skilled and educated personnel. The technologists work under the supervision of our board certified radiologists.  The technologist will explain the procedure, take a brief history, and assist you onto the examination table. A transmission gel will be applied to the area of the body that will be examined. A transducer will be moved slowly over the body part being imaged. The transducer sends a signal to an on-board computer which processes the data and produces the ultrasound image. It is from this image that the radiologists will determine a diagnosis.

How long will the exam take?
The exam usually takes from 30 to 60 minutes, depending upon the anatomy under study.

When will I know my results?
The radiologist will study your films and report the findings to the referring physician within 24 hours. Your referring physician will discuss your ultrasound results with you.

What are the benefits vs. risks?
Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections). Occasionally, an ultrasound exam may be temporarily uncomfortable, but it should not be painful. Ultrasound is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than most other imaging methods. Ultrasound imaging is extremely safe and does not use radiation. Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images. Ultrasound is the preferred imaging modality for the diagnosis and monitoring of pregnant women and their unborn babies. Ultrasound provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and fluid aspiration. Standard diagnostic ultrasound has no known harmful effects on humans and risk free.

What are the limitations of General Ultrasound Imaging?
Ultrasound waves are disrupted by air or gas that may be present in the body. Therefore, ultrasound is not an ideal imaging technique for the air-filled bowel or organs obscured by the bowel. Ultrasound is not as useful for imaging air-filled lungs, but it may be used to detect fluid around or within the lungs. Similarly, ultrasound cannot penetrate bone but may be useful for imaging infection surrounding a bone. Large patients are more difficult to image by ultrasound because greater amounts of tissue attenuate (weaken) the sound waves as they pass deeper into the body reducing the amount of sounds waves that return to the transducer for analysis.

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Question about Your Exam?

If you have a question about your exam, please call our department at 530.529.XRAY (9729)