What is an ultrasound scan?
Diagnostic medical ultrasound is sometimes called sonography, and is a painless, non-invasive method for imaging the inside of your body.
Ultrasound scans are performed by using very high frequency sound waves which are above the frequency of human hearing.
The ultrasonographer will use an ultrasound probe, also called a transducer, to generate the sound waves. The ultrasound waves produced by the probe travel through the body and bounce off the different tissues, resulting in echoes. By recording these echoes, the ultrasound machine can build up a picture of the tissues in the body.
The ultrasound waves allow sonographers to visualise many organs in the body, such as tendons, muscles, joints, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, testes, uterus and ovaries and the thyroid gland.
In some situations, the sonographer may perform a Doppler ultrasound scan. This works by measuring the changes in frequency of the sound waves when they bounce back from moving fluids, such as the flow of blood. This allows the sonographer to diagnose narrowing of blood vessels and abnormal blood flow in organs such as the liver and kidneys.
Unlike X-Rays and CT scans, ultrasound does not use radiation. Therefore, it is safe in pregnancy and in children. There are no side effects to an ultrasound scan.
There are no contraindications to ultrasound, but because the soundwaves have limited penetration through the body, not everything can be seen with ultrasound.
If you are not sure whether an ultrasound scan is appropriate for you or not, please speak to one of our sonographers or consultants and we will be able to advise you. However, please remember that our team cannot perform a full medical consultation for you, and we would recommend seeing a healthcare specialist for a referral.