What is an Ultrasound?
An ultrasound scan, also referred to as a sonogram, diagnostic sonography, and ultrasonography, is a device that uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of some part of the inside of the body, such as the stomach, liver, heart, tendons, muscles, joints and blood vessels. Experts say that as sound waves, rather than radiation are used, ultrasound scans are safe. Obstetric sonography is frequently used to check the baby in the womb.
How does Ultrasonography work?
Although ultrasound travels through soft tissue and fluids, it bounces back off denser surfaces. Ultrasound will travel through blood, for example in the heart chamber, but much of it will echo (bounce back) when hitting a heart valve.
If there are no solid gallstones in the gallbladder, ultrasound will travel straight through, but when there are stones, ultrasound will bounce back from them.
The denser the object the ultrasound hits, the more of it bounces back.
The bouncing back, or echo, is what gives the ultrasound image its features – varying shades of gray reflect different densities.
What can ultrasound scans be used for?
Ultrasound scans are used to detect problems in the liver, heart, kidney or the abdomen. They may also be useful in helping the surgeon when carrying out some types of biopsies.