Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. It helps diagnose the causes of pain, swelling and infection in the body's internal organs and to examine an unborn child (fetus) in pregnant women. In infants, doctors commonly use ultrasound to evaluate the brain, hips, and spine. . It also helps guide biopsies, diagnose heart conditions, and assess damage after a heart attack. Ultrasound is safe, noninvasive, and does not use radiation.
This procedure requires little to no special preparation. Your doctor will tell you how to prepare, including whether you should not eat or drink beforehand. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may need to change into a gown.
What is General Ultrasound Imaging?
Conventional ultrasound displays the images in thin, flat sections of the body. Advancements in ultrasound technology include three-dimensional (3-D) ultrasound that formats the sound wave data into 3-D images.
A Doppler ultrasound study may be part of an ultrasound examination.
Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates movement of materials in the body. It allows the doctor to see and evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins in the body.
There are three types of Doppler ultrasound:
- Color Doppler uses a computer to convert Doppler measurements into an array of colors to show the speed and direction of blood flow through a blood vessel.
- Power Doppler is a newer technique that is more sensitive than color Doppler and capable of providing greater detail of blood flow, especially when blood flow is little or minimal. Power Doppler, however, does not help the radiologist determine the direction of blood flow, which may be important in some situations.
- Spectral Doppler displays blood flow measurements graphically, in terms of the distance traveled per unit of time, rather than as a color picture. It can also convert blood flow information into a distinctive sound that can be heard with every heartbeat.