Ultrasound is a colloquial term for the ultrasound examination, also called sonography. It is an imaging procedure with which the doctor can examine various parts of the body and organs. Here you can read all about ultrasound, when the examination is useful and how it is performed.

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a fast, safe, largely side-effect free and cost-effective examination method. It is also known as sonography. The doctor can use it to assess many different body regions and organs. The examination can be carried out on an outpatient basis in the doctor’s practice or in a hospital. A stay in hospital is usually not necessary.

When do you need an ultrasound?

Sonography is used in medicine both for diagnostics and for live monitoring of technically difficult interventions or for monitoring the course of diseases. Frequent areas of application are among others:

-Examination of the abdominal organs (abdominal sonography), for example to assess the liver, spleen and kidneys
-Sonography of the thyroid gland
-Ultrasound of the heart (echocardiography)
-Examination and observation of blood flow in vessels, for example the carotid arteries or leg veins
-Sonography of the female breast (mammary sonography)
gynaecological ultrasound, for example to assess the uterus, the ovaries and during pregnancy
-Ultrasound of the joints, for example the hip joint
-Detection and monitoring of bleeding in body cavities after accidents

What do you do on an ultrasound?

Depending on which organs the doctor wants to assess, the ultrasound examination takes place sitting, standing or lying (prone or lateral position) on an examination couch.

First, the doctor applies an ultrasound gel to the transducer so that there is even contact between the transducer and the body surface. The ultrasound device sends ultrasound waves into the tissue via the transducer. The patient feels nothing of this. The ultrasonic waves are reflected, i.e. reflected back, by the tissue in different ways depending on its structure.

The transducer picks up these reflected waves again, so that the ultrasound device can calculate an image from them. This is now displayed to the doctor and patient on the monitor. The doctor often shows and explains the findings to the patient directly on the monitor. The doctor can print out individual, particularly meaningful images directly on the ultrasound unit.

Ultrasound: Special examinations

For some questions it is important to look even deeper or from a different perspective into the body. For this purpose there are special ultrasound probes that can be inserted into the body. The doctor refers to this examination as endosonography.

What are the risks associated with ultrasound?

The classical sonography does not offer any risks. The sound waves cannot be felt by the patient and do not cause any injuries. Since it does not involve radiation, as is the case with X-rays or computer tomography, it can also be performed well on pregnant women and children.

What do I have to consider for an ultrasound?

After the examination the doctor will give you a cloth to wipe off the ultrasound gel. If it has come into contact with your clothing, you do not need to worry: The gels commonly used today are very hygroscopic and usually do not leave permanent stains on clothing. There are no special precautions regarding diet, driving or the like for the time after the ultrasound.

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