6 Common Types of Ultrasound and How They Are Used

Also known as ultrasonography or sonography, ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves that are translated into images. Most people are familiar with using ultrasound for prenatal care and to observe the fetus as it develops. This is solid proof that ultrasounds are safe. There are other types of ultrasound, and in fact, let’s look at the 6 common types of ultrasound and how they are used.

The Value of Ultrasound Technology

Getting an ultrasound is painless and safe. There is no need for incisions and no risk of radiation. Radiologists can look at internal organs as sound waves bounce off the organs and bones. The ultrasound interprets any changes and the computer creates the image.

Many types of ultrasound use a transducer applied to the skin with gel to see the organs and tissue. These transducers come in various sizes and shapes and are mainly used for diagnostic ultrasounds.

Pelvic Ultrasound Imaging

This type of ultrasound is considered a diagnostic tool. It can examine the uterus, bladder, or prostate. A pelvic ultrasound can diagnose abnormal bleeding, pain, menstrual problems, ovarian cysts, fibroids, kidney or bladder stones, and cancer in the uterus or ovaries.

Abdominal Ultrasounds

This type of ultrasound is useful in examining organs like the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, bile ducts, kidneys, and bladder. It aids in the diagnosis of many conditions or to assess damage caused by illnesses. It can also help to determine abdominal pain, stones in the gallbladder, identify the cause of an enlarged organ, blood clots, or plaque buildup.

physician performing ultrasound

Obstetric Ultrasounds

Used routinely during pregnancy to monitor the growth of the fetus, this is one type of ultrasound that many people are familiar with, though you may also know it as a fetal ultrasound. With this test, physicians can learn the age of the fetus and diagnose any possible abnormalities, and, in addition, determine if there’s more than one fetus.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

This diagnostic ultrasound requires that a woman empty her bladder before it can be performed. The transducer is inserted just a few inches inside the vagina, and it commonly used when a patient is unexplained pelvic pain.

Transrectal Ultrasound

This type of ultrasound is used to observe the prostate gland. The transducer is inserted into the rectum in order to have the sound waves travel to the prostate. The transducer is moved around in order to observe images from several different angles.

Carotid and Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound

This is used to monitor the carotid artery in the neck that carries blood from the neck to the brain. It is primarily used to screen patients for stenosis, which is a blockage or narrowing of the carotid artery. A stenosis can greatly increase the patient’s risk of a stroke.

A carotid and abdominal aorta ultrasound will also identify if an aneurysm is present, which is an abnormal enlargement of the aorta.

Other Items to Note

There are additional types of ultrasounds which look at specific organs in the abdomen such as the liver or the vascular system.

Most ultrasounds take approximately 30 – 45 minutes to complete, and after an ultrasound, patients receive the results within days.

Contact Weirton Medical Center with questions or concerns about an upcoming ultrasound.

As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (304) 797-6DOC today!

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