Ultrasound

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasonography, also known simply as ultrasound or sono, is a method of obtaining diagnostic images of the body through the use of inaudible, high frequency sound waves. Among the benefits of ultrasound is that it can visualize the inside of the body without using radiation, making it ideal for exams of children or pregnant women. The equipment also has the advantage of being relatively portable.

Ultrasoud ACR Logo

Are you at risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm? A simple ultrasound screening could save your life!

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakening of the walls of the aorta, the largest artery in the human body, in the abdominal region. In most cases they produce no symptoms. Yet an aneurysm that bursts, causing internal bleeding, is fatal in 90 percent of cases. Risk factors include:

  • A history of smoking
  • Long-standing high blood pressure
  • A family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms

The good news is that abdominal aortic aneurysms can be treated effectively if found before they rupture. And they can be detected with a fast, simple, inexpensive ultrasound screening.

Screening recommendations are as follows:

  • One-time screening for men or women age 65–75 who have any history of smoking
  • One-time screening at age 60 for men with a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm

If you believe you may be at risk, we recommend discussing the benefits of screening with your primary-care provider.

Most ultrasounds take less than 30 minutes. The patient is positioned on an exam table. The exam is performed using an ultrasound probe, also called a transducer, a device that both emits and receives sound waves. It is attached to the ultrasound device.

To help the transducer make better contact with the patient’s skin, a clear gel is applied in the area to be examined. Based on reflected sound wave patterns, the ultrasound device generates and records images of the inside of the body as the technologist moves the transducer over the skin. The images, and sometimes motion video, are recorded so that a physician can read them and make a diagnostic interpretation.

Learn more

RadiologyInfo, a website maintained jointly by the American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America, includes a wealth of information, written with patients in mind, about ultrasound and its various diagnostic applications.