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Ultrasound: Purpose, Preparation, and Procedures

An ultrasound, sometimes called ultrasound, is a technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of a part of the body's interior.
Ultrasound: Purpose, Preparation, and Procedures

Ultrasound: Purpose, preparation, and procedure

An ultrasound can be used to monitor an unborn child, diagnose a condition, or guide a surgeon through certain procedures.

How ultrasound works:

A small device called an ultrasonic probe is used to emit high-frequency sound waves.

They don't hear these sound waves, but when they bounce off different parts of the body, they produce echoes that are picked up by the probe and transformed into a moving image.
This image appears on a monitor when scanning.

Preparing an ultrasound:

Some information and tips should be followed to get good quality images.

For example, it is recommended that:

  1. Drink water and go to the toilet after scanning - this may be necessary before a fetal or pelvic scan.
  2. Avoid eating and drinking before the scan - this may be necessary before a scan of the digestive system.
  3. If you need a sedative to relax, it comes with a small tube on the back of your hand or arm.

What happens during an ultrasound:

  1. Most ultrasound examinations take between 15 and 45 minutes, They usually take place in a hospital radiology department and are performed by a radiologist or ultrasound.
  2. They can also be performed in community facilities such as GPS' offices and can be performed by other health professionals such as midwives or physiotherapists specially trained in ultrasound.

The three main types are:

  1. External ultrasound: The tube moves to the skin.
  2. internal ultrasound - the tube is inserted into the body.
  3. Endoscopic ultrasound: The tube binds to a long, thin, and flexible tube (an endoscope) and is transmitted to the body.

External ultrasonic scanning:

  1. An external ultrasound is most often used to examine the heart or fetus in the uterus.
  2. also used to examine the liver, kidneys, and as well as other organs or tissues that can be evaluated through the skin, such as muscles and joints.
  3. A small portable tube is placed on the skin and moves over the examined part of the body.
  4. A lubricating gel is placed on the skin so that the probe can move smoothly, This also ensures continuous contact between the tube and the skin.
  5. You should hear nothing more than the sensor and gel on the skin (which is often cold).
  6. If you have a scan of your uterus or pelvis, you may have a full bladder that causes some discomfort.
  7. There will be a bathroom nearby to empty the bladder once the scan is complete.

Internal or transvaginal ultrasound:

  1. An internal examination allows your doctor to look for organs such as your prostate, ovaries, or uterus more closely in your body.
  2. A transvaginal ultrasound means "through the vagina," during the procedure, you will be asked to lie on your back or pulled sideways with your knees towards your chest.
  3. A small ultrasound probe with a sterile lid, not much wider than a finger, is gently transferred to the vagina or rectum and the images are transferred to a monitor
  4. Internal tests can cause some discomfort, but they usually do not cause pain and should not take long.

Endoscopic ultrasound:

  1. During an endoscopic ultrasound exam, an endoscope is inserted into your body, usually through your mouth, to examine areas such as your stomach or throat (esophagus).
  2. You are usually asked to lie on your side while the endoscope is carefully pressed into your stomach.
  3. The endoscope has a light and an ultrasound device at the end. Once inserted into the body, sound waves are used to create images in the same way as an external ultrasound.
  4. You are usually given a sedative to stay calm and spray local anesthesia to numb your throat, as an endoscopic ultrasound can be unpleasant and can make you feel sick. 
  5. You can also get a mouthguard to keep your mouth open and protect your teeth if you bite the endoscope.

After an ultrasound:

  1. In most cases, there are no side effects and you can return home immediately after the scan.
  2. If no sedative has been used, you can drive, eat, drink, and return to your other normal activities immediately.
  3. If you've had an endoscopic ultrasound and received a sedative to help you relax, we generally recommend staying in the hospital for a few hours until the medicine begins to fade.
  4. You have to make sure someone picks you up from the hospital and stays with you for the next 24 hours.
  5. You must not drive, drink alcohol, or use machines during this time.
  6. You can be informed of the scan results immediately after the performance, but in most cases, the images need to be analyzed and a report will be sent to the doctor who directed you to scan.
  7. You will discuss the results with you a few days later or at your next appointment if one has been agreed.

Are there any risks or side effects?

  1. There are no known risks from sound waves used in an ultrasound. Unlike other scans, such as CT scans, ultrasound does not involve radiation exposure.
  2. External and internal ultrasound tests have no side effects and are usually painless, although some discomfort can occur as the probe is pressed onto the skin or inserted into the body.
  3. If you have an internal scan and are allergic to latex, it is important that the ultrasound or the doctor performing the scan knows so that you can use a latex-free probe cover.
  4. Endoscopic ultrasound can be a little more unpleasant and cause temporary side effects such as sore throat or swelling.
  5. There is also a low risk of more serious complications, such as internal bleeding.
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