During an ultrasound examination, or sonography, high frequency sound waves are sent into the body. Depending on which organ they cover, the sound waves are sent and their echoes are then recorded, calculated and composed to create a real-time visual image. Ultrasound is used to visualize nearly all soft organs (liver, thyroid, female breast, skin, small joints, etc.) and produces excellent images. Only organs that contain calcium (bone) or air (lung, intestines) cannot be examined using ultrasound.
The examination is usually completed in with the patient lying face up, although it is sometimes done face down or sitting. The position depends on the area of the body being examined. A contact gel is applied on the skin to facilitate this process. The contact gel not only enables the transducer to glide more smoothly, but also establishes direct contact between the transducer and the body surface. Your radiologist guides the transducer over the area under examination and obtains images while doing so. The radiologist may ask you to breathe in a certain way or to hold your breath at times. The pulsation of the patients blood flow can be heard during artery examinations.
An ultrasound procedure is absolutely painless and takes between 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the number of areas being evaluated. Patients only have to wipe of the gel with a towel after the examination.