Ultrasound scanning, also known as sonography, is a non-invasive medical exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to take clear images of the inside of your body.
Ultrasound imaging allows healthcare professionals to get a more in-depth view of what’s going on inside certain organs or vessels. This allows them to make an informed decision about the best medical treatment options for you!
Unlike many other imaging techniques, ultrasound scans do not use any form of radiation, making them much safer to use for all patients.
Therefore, ultrasounds are the common method used to evaluate the growing fetus in a pregnant woman.
Why would I need an ultrasound?
Ultrasound scans are a vital imaging tool that can help to identify, diagnose, and treat a large variety of medical conditions.
There are many reasons why you might need an ultrasound, and they are most commonly used during pregnancy to check the growth and development of a fetus inside the mother’s uterus.
Here are some other reasons why you might need to go for an ultrasound scan:
- Diagnosis of certain thyroid, gallbladder, kidney, or pancreatic disorders
- Checking lumps and masses to see if they are cancerous or benign
- Examination of the breast tissue to assess for lumps
- Checking the blood pressure and blood flow through certain vessels
- During surgery to guide the doctor to the right place in the body
- Guiding an anesthetist to help them stay clear of nerves during a surgical procedure
- During tumor treatment or a biopsy operation
- Investigating tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome
- Evaluating for liver steatosis 
- Assessing joints
- Measuring lung function 
- Diagnosing neuromuscular disease 
How do I prepare for an ultrasound?
There is little preparation required for an ultrasound.
However, for pelvic scans, you may be asked to show up to the appointment with a full bladder. You may need to eat or drink a certain amount, but this will be specified by the healthcare professional prior to the scan.
For other scans, such as those done on the gallbladder, your doctor might ask you to avoid eating for a period of time before the procedure.
During these ultrasounds, it’s a good idea to wear loose clothing and leave any valuable jewelry at home!
What should I expect during my ultrasound?
For any type of ultrasound, patients are usually asked to remove any jewelry and change into a loose gown. If not, they are asked to remove some clothing from the area that is being scanned.
During an external ultrasound, such as those used during pregnancy or to evaluate the abdomen, the sonographer will apply a small amount of gel to the end of the scanner, also known as an ultrasound transducer. They will then place the transducer lightly over the area of interest.
The gel might initially feel cold to touch, but it will soon warm up with the heat of your body. This examination should not be painful. However, there can be slight discomfort due to the light pressure that the sonographer applies to get quality images of the regions of interest.
If you’re having an internal ultrasound, the transducer may be placed in the vagina or rectum to view the reproductive organs. In certain cases when the digestive tract needs to be assessed, a specialized transducer may be used on the end of an endoscope, which will then be inserted into the mouth and down the esophagus.
During these endoscopic procedures, patients will usually be offered some medications to reduce pain and discomfort.
What are the benefits of getting an ultrasound?
Ultrasounds are a great tool for healthcare professionals to gain a better view of what’s going on inside your body without needing to perform surgery or use radiation-based imaging. Ultrasound scans are also very quick to perform, and they require little preparation!
With this non-invasive procedure, the sonographer can identify and diagnose specific health conditions and use the results of your scan to formulate a personalized care plan.
Ultrasounds can catch a problem before it gets worse and becomes untreatable–such as identifying a tumor prior to metastasis.
What are the risks of getting an ultrasound?
Since ultrasound scanning is non-invasive and does not use radiation, it is a very low-risk examination.
However, if you are getting an internal ultrasound, there can be some discomfort and a very slight risk of internal bleeding.
Where can I find an ultrasound in Southern California?
If you’re looking for an ultrasound in Southern California, you’re in luck!
LAIIC’s distinguished professionals have radiology offices across Southern California where you can book an ultrasound appointment near you online:
LAIIC Radiology Offices at PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital - Los Angeles, California
LAIIC Radiology Offices - Whittier, California
LAIIC Radiology Offices - Downey, California
If you’re ready to book your radiology appointment, visit our online booking page or give us a call at (562) 600-7014.
With a wide array of uses, ultrasound scanning can be implemented as part of a personalized treatment plan for patients suffering from a variety of conditions.
The advancements in medical technology are only going to enhance the incredible benefits of sonography in the future!