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Ultrasound in MA & RI

An ultrasound (also known as sonography) is a common imaging technology. Ultrasounds are an important diagnostic tool in medicine. They are mainly used for pinpointing internal conditions that doctors cannot necessarily diagnose with a physical exam alone.

What is an Ultrasound?

Ultrasounds are like X-rays in that they’re used to take images of a patient’s body for diagnostic tests. However, unlike X-rays, ultrasounds do not expose you to ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses painless sound waves to see real-time images of inside the body. Since ultrasounds are in real time, it shows internal structures as they move and can give insight into how an organ, such as the heart, is functioning. This is why ultrasounds are the routine imaging test for prenatal care – you can see how the baby is forming in real time, and if there are any pregnancy complications that can be spotted and treated right away.

During an ultrasound, a technologist moves a small, hand-held transducer over the skin of a specific area, such as the chest. A water-based gel helps the transducer maintain contact with your skin. A radiologist will interpret the results and share them with your doctor. In some cases, the radiologist may discuss the results with you at the appointment.

Reasons Why You May Need an Ultrasound

Your doctor at Southcoast Health may recommend an ultrasound to:

  • Check the progress of pregnancy and fetal development
  • Evaluate the cause of symptoms, such as pain, swelling, or infection
  • Examine blood vessels and blood flow
  • Examine internal organs and tissues
  • Guide procedures, such as needle biopsies

Preparing for an Ultrasound

Patients usually do not have to prepare for an ultrasound. If you need a full bladder for the exam, your doctor will ask you to drink several glasses of water and not urinate prior to the test. For other exams it’s the complete opposite – you will need to fast the day of your ultrasound. You should wear loose, comfortable clothing and leave jewelry at home. For some exams, you may need to change out of your clothes into a gown.

Ultrasounds typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. During the exam, you may feel pressure as the transducer moves over your skin. The technologist or radiologist will view the ultrasound images on a computer monitor and take still pictures for reference. Once the ultrasound is complete, you can then return to your normal activities.

Schedule an Ultrasound at Southcoast Health

Ultrasounds could help clarify your diagnosis and treatment options. Find out how an ultrasound can help your condition and turn to Southcoast Health. Our radiology imaging services is relied on for ultrasounds and other imaging exams at our locations in Fall River, North Dartmouth, New Bedford, Wareham, MA and in Middletown, Rhode Island. Contact us and schedule a consultation today.