Ultrasound Scan: 5 Key Uses of the Technology

Most people associate the term “ultrasound” with pregnancy—whether it’s to examine the baby in the womb or determine the baby’s gender. Although this practice, called fetal imaging, is one of the most common uses of ultrasounds, it’s actually just one of several applications.

Unlike other types of medical imaging, such as x-ray scans or CT scans, ultrasound imaging does not subject the patient to ionizing radiation. Instead, ultrasound uses sound waves to generate images of the inside of the body.

Different uses of ultrasound scans

  • Monitoring your baby

Ultrasound images can give your doctor lots of information about your pregnancy. This includes the age of your developing baby, the baby’s position, and the baby’s overall health. A prenatal ultrasound can tell the baby’s sex, too. Traditional ultrasound is a two-dimensional image. A newer type of ultrasound takes even more images. It creates a three-dimensional image called 3D ultrasound. A 4D ultrasound adds motion to the images.

  • Breast Cancer

Felt a lump in your breast? Ultrasound is used at the earliest stage to identify what and where the lump is in your breast as well as used to take samples of the lump to quickly identify possible cancer.

  • Testicular cancer

Ultrasound is the gold standard in imaging and identifying what it can be as well so any potential cancer can be picked up early. An ultrasound test can help your doctor determine the nature of any testicular lumps, such as whether the lumps are solid or fluid-filled. An ultrasound also tells your doctor whether lumps are inside or outside of the testicle.

  • Musculoskeletal

Ultrasound can have a look into the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and joints and identify whether there is a tear of the muscle or weakness of the tendons that are contributing to aches and pains in your joints.

  • Abdominal pain

If you have belly pain, bloating or swelling, an abdominal ultrasound can help your doctor figure out why. The images it creates let your doctor see your kidneys, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and blood vessels in your abdomen. Also, new ultrasound technology makes it easier to get abdominal images when someone is obese or difficult to scan for other reasons. Technicians now can control the depth of the ultrasound signal so the scans produce better-quality images for the doctor to examine.

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