An ultrasound is a diagnostic tool that uses a transducer, or probe, to generate sound waves and computer technology to produce pictures of internal structures.
Unlike most other imaging methods, ultrasound can create “movies” showing the beating heart, peristalsis (contraction) of bowel loops, and flowing blood. Ultrasound can be used to evaluate breast lumps and abnormalities seen on mammograms. It is often used to guide biopsies, such as breast biopsies. Computerized ultrasound technology is employed in other applications as well. An ultrasound is safe, painless and can often provide information that eliminates the need for more expensive tests or surgery.
At South Jersey Radiology Associates (SJRA), our radiologists offer five main types of ultrasound that range across general imaging, cardiac imaging, and women's imaging. For cardiac imaging, a 2D Echocardiogram (2D Echo) is a type of ultrasound that evaluates the structure, function, and blood flow to the heart. The test is conducted to assess any damage the heart muscle may have and identify areas of the heart that may have impaired blood supply.
A vascular doppler ultrasound may be ordered in combination of a 2D Echo as well. A vascular doppler is a type of ultrasound that uses soundwaves to image blood vessels, including arteries and veins. A vascular doppler is utilized to take a look at blood flow since it has the ability to visualize the speed and direction of blood flow throughout the body.
For women's imaging, there are two types of specialty ultrasound outside general breast ultrasounds. The first type is a fetal ultrasound. A fetal ultrasound is an imaging procedure done during pregnancy that uses reflected sound waves to produce a picture of a fetus, placenta, and amniotic fluid. The image is displayed on a screen.
A fetal ultrasound is used to assess fetal size and position and, because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the fetus’ internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels. Fetal ultrasound does not use x-rays or other types of radiation that may harm the fetus. It can be done as early as the fifth week of pregnancy. A fetal ultrasound can be used to determine the sex of the fetus around the 18th week of pregnancy.
The second type is a transvaginal ultrasound. A transvaginal ultrasound is a type of pelvic ultrasound used by healthcare providers to examine the female reproductive organs. A transvaginal ultrasound procedure sends sound waves through a probe inserted into the vagina. The ultrasound probe is placed in the vagina and can evaluate the bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and vagina.
SJRA has specialty radiologists that are able to perform and interpret all types of ultrasound. Ultrasound preparation is based upon the type of ultrasound you are getting done. For fetal and transvaginal ultrasounds, your referring physician or our team of experts may require for you to empty your bladder prior to your appointment. General ultrasounds don't require any kind of special preparation. If you have any questions, reach out to your referring physician or our team at SJRA here.