Ultra Sound

An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to make an image of a person’s internal body structures. Doctors commonly use ultrasound to study a developing fetus (unborn baby), a person’s abdominal and pelvic organs, muscles and tendons, or their heart and blood vessels. Other names for an ultrasound scan include sonogram or (when imaging the heart) an echocardiogram.

Different uses of ultrasound scans
Doctors commonly use ultrasound for procedures such as:

  • abdominal scans – may be used to investigate abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, abnormal sounds and lumps. Structures to be examined may include the gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys and large blood vessels. Structures that contain air (such as the stomach and bowels) can’t be examined easily by ultrasound because air prevents the transfer of the sound waves
  • pelvic scans – may be performed if a woman is suffering pelvic pain or has abnormal periods, fibroids, cysts or other conditions associated with the female reproductive system
  • pregnancy scans – used to check for fetal abnormalities (such as spina bifida), check the age and position of a fetus, and monitor fetal growth and development. Undergoing an ultrasound scan is now considered routine for pregnant women in Australia
  • other uses – musculoskeletal scans (to check regions like a shoulder, hip or elbow), breast scans (for example, to further investigate an abnormality picked up by physical examination or mammogram) and a scan of a person’s eye (to check its internal structures). A special type of ultrasound scan, called a Doppler ultrasound, is used to detect the speed and direction of blood flow in certain regions of the body, for example, neck arteries and leg veins.

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