Health Tips from a Mother of Three

Reasons That Your Doctor May Use An Ultrasound When You Aren't Pregnant

When you think of ultrasound imaging, you like picture excited expectant parents learning their baby's gender or a pregnant woman checking on her fetus' health. However, ultrasounds are used for a variety of purposes beyond prenatal care. Learn more about ultrasounds and how they're used below.

Why Ultrasounds?

During an ultrasound, the equipment a high frequency radio wave that's too high for human ears to detect. When the wave bounces off of structure in the body, the transducer equipment converts the wave data into an image.

Ultrasounds have little to no risk and are completely noninvasive, making them the preferred first step in diagnosing most internal conditions. Because the clarity of an ultrasound image depends on the transmitted waves being unobstructed, ultrasounds are only used for examination of the soft tissues and organs. Examination of the skeletal system is done using X-rays, while MRIs are used to look at both bone and soft tissue simultaneously.

In most cases, ultrasound sessions are less than 30 minutes long, though the length of the examination depends on the complexity of the issue and whether or not the technician can get a clear image. To ensure image clarity, the technicians may request that a patient drink a certain amount of water or avoid eating to help keep the bladder and stomach from obstructing the image. However, for many ultrasounds, no preparations are necessary before the procedure.

Which Conditions are Ultrasounds Used For?

You may receive an ultrasound to diagnose a new condition or to observe the changes to an existing condition. Ultrasound imaging is commonly used to examine patients with conditions that affect the following body systems:

  • Adrenal, including glands or the thyroid
  • Digestive, including the abdomen and bowel
  • Reproductive, including the ovaries, prostate, or scrotum 

Ultrasounds can also be used to a limited degree for examining the chest, neck, and head. The unique process for ultrasound imaging makes it an ideal diagnostic tool for many conditions, including:

  • Appendicitis 
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Kidney stones
  • Obstructions in the digestive or urinary systems
  • Organ enlargement, especially the liver or spleen

Doctors also use ultrasounds as a preliminary examination to determine the size and nature of an unidentified mass or tumor. 

If you experience discomfort related to an organ or soft tissue condition, don't be surprised when your doctor orders an ultrasound. This noninvasive imaging option can help your health care provider better understand your symptoms and needs.

For more information, talk to a professional like EVDI Medical Imaging.