Ultrasound images are produced by sound waves. A scanning probe is passed over the area of the body that is being examined. The probe sends sound waves into the body and then "listens" for echoes reflected back from body structures. An ultrasound image is produced from these detected echoes based upon their intensity and time taken by them to return to the probe.
In order to perform an ultrasound exam, a watery gel must be placed on the skin over the area that is to be examined. This gel is necessary to use in order for the ultrasound signals to pass easily to and from the probe. The gel also assists in allowing the probe to be smoothly passed over the area of interest.
At Woodstock Hospital, abdomen, pelvic, OB, small parts, aspirations, biopsies, vascular studies (arteries and veins), carotid doppler studies and heart ultrasounds (echocardiography) are performed. The radiologist will interpret the exam and the results will be sent to your physician within 3-5 working days. The ultrasonographers will not inform you of any results.
Abdominal ultrasound is used to evaluate the liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas, aorta and gallbladder. The exam is painless and is generally completed within 30 minutes. Ultrasound can sometimes identify abnormalities not visible by other imaging methods and can compliment other imaging techniques such as Computed Tomography (C.T.CT). In preparation for the exam, you must have nothing to eat or drink after midnight but you can take medications with a small amount of water.
A full bladder is generally required in order to perform the exam, which is painless and is generally completed within 30 minutes. Pelvic ultrasound is primarily used to examine the uterus, ovaries and bladder in female patients and the bladder and prostate in male patients. In preparation for the exam, you must finish 1 Litre of water 1 hour prior to exam time.
Obstetrical ultrasounds are used to evaluate pregnancies at all stages. A full bladder is generally required in order to perform the exam, which is painless. In preparation for the exam, you must finish 1 Litre of water 1 hour prior to exam time.
Obstetrical ultrasounds provide information regarding:
- Confirmation of the position of the pregnancy in the uterus
- Number of fetuses and age of the pregnancy
- Fetal growth and well being
- Complications of the pregnancy related to fetal, placental and uterine abnormalities as well as abnormalities in the amount of amniotic fluid that is present can be detected
Vascular ultrasound is used to examine the arteries and veins of the body for areas of blockage, narrowing, clot formation, trauma and congenital malformation. The exam produces a color image of the blood vessels that provides the technologist with information about the speed and direction of blood flow. Regions of narrowing can be seen and evaluated for severity. There is no preparation needed for this exam.
Ultrasound is commonly used to guide biopsies of organs or masses. When a biopsy is performed a needle is used to remove a few cells or a very small piece of tissue. The sample is then sent to the pathology department for analysis. Analysis of the sample takes approximately 1 week, and the results are sent to your doctor.