Posts tagged ‘sonographer’

April 16, 2015

All About the Belly: Abdominal Ultrasound

uplifting buddha by faria! via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)Bellies are where we keep things, from laughter to turkey dinners to babies. But bellies hold more than that! The anatomically correct name for that part of the body is the abdomen. The abdomen is home to important organs including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and towards the back, the kidneys.

So when we as radiologists are asked to look into someone’s belly, we have a lot to check out! Pain in the abdomen can arise from issues with any of the  organs, the blood vessels and ducts or even the supporting tissues. Because there is so much to see, we select our tools very carefully – starting with ultrasound technology.

Ultrasound is great because images are made with harmless sound waves instead of radiation. It is fast, noninvasive, and painless. The most uncomfortable one might feel is when the tender area is evaluated in the scan. In short, it’s an easy exam.

Once the gel is applied, a transducer (fancy name for a probe) is rubbed gently across the skin. A computer calculates black, white and grey images in real time, instantly showing on a screen. Your radiologist can then interpret those images and determine what’s healthy, or what needs to be healed.

When you have a focal symptom, such as a pain, we can look specifically at the area in question, even viewing it with you in different positions (as in, it hurts right here when I do this!). Flank pain (“renal colic”), especially in young patients, those who are pregnant, and those with known kidney stones are excellent candidates for abdominal ultrasound. Right upper quadrant pain or pain after eating fatty foods can be due to gallstones – best seen and evaluated by ultrasound. Right lower quadrant pain can be an indicator of appendicitis and in kids and young adults ultrasound is a great first imaging test.

No matter what the diagnosis, it’s important to take care of your belly – and all that it holds! Ultrasound is a powerful tool in helping us help you.

(Image Credit: uplifting buddha by faria! via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

March 27, 2014

Ultrasound and Pregnancy: The Third Trimester

Whoa. Third trimester!

Whoa. Third trimester!

The third trimester of pregnancy can be a kick in the ribs – literally! As the newest member of your family grows and moves, the closer the crown of the head moves toward the birth canal. This is something of a slow somersault. Often times, it’s noticeable by the kicking-in-new-places.

But sometimes it’s not readily obvious. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong, but that may be a moment when your doctor would order a third trimester ultrasound.

Here’s What To Expect:

Third trimester ultrasounds are less common but not unheard of. Just as during the first or second term ultrasound, measurements can be taken to confirm size and due date.

Here’s What You’ll See:

This ultrasound can be used to look for fetal development, size, fluid and position.  The examination is typically performed by scanning with the probe on mom’s abdomen.  It is uncommon to perform transvaginal fetal ultrasound during the third trimester.

So, if you don’t need a third trimester ultrasound – that’s totally fine. As doctors we try to be judicious about the use of imaging. Again, while an ultrasound is harmless, why go in for unnecessary tests? If your doctor does recommend a third trimester ultrasound, again – don’t worry. We simply want the best possible health – for all!

If you’d like some really comprehensive further explanations of ultrasound and pregnancy, we recommend this link.

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs regularly about women’s health at www.mammographykc.com and general radiology here at www.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

March 25, 2014

Ultrasound and Pregnancy: The Second Trimester

Normal 28 week fetus on second trimester ultrasound. We're getting bigger now Mom!

Normal 28 week fetus on second trimester ultrasound. We’re getting bigger now Mom!

While the first ultrasound of a pregnancy is necessary to confirm pregnancy and initial health of the fetus and the mother, there’s more to come!

Ultrasound: 2nd Trimester Pregnancy

The second trimester ultrasound is a fun one! Now, ultrasounds are not entertainment – they are a medical screening and we doctors take them seriously for the sake of the health of all.

Luckily, ultrasounds do not involve radiation so they are safe and non-invasive. Whereas a first trimester ultrasound requires what is known as a transvaginal probe, the second trimester is done entirely externally unless there are special circumstances with mom or the baby.

What to Expect

You will be asked to come to the exam with a full bladder – we actually use the full bladder as a “window” through which we can view the pregnancy.

The exam with the bladder full will be done using a transducer across your belly to get a good evaluation of the uterus and your pelvis. This is most helpful in demonstrating the pregnancy location and fetus position.

The whole process will take about half an hour.

So… what’s the fun? Want to know if it’s a boy or girl? Want to see a clearer picture of the fetus? Now’s the time! Because most people wait until the second term to announce their pregnancy to friends and family, these images often appear on places like Facebook as the first introduction of who’s-to-come. That’s a lovely bonus.

What We Can See

But the serious side of a second term ultrasound is to determine a few important things. First, we want to confirm size and due date for this pregnancy making sure the fetal size and expected due date match up. We also want to confirm overall fetal health while performing a fetal anatomic survey. This means we can see development of the fetus and detect any possible problems. If there is any point of concern by second trimester ultrasound study often more detailed ultrasound, fetal echocardiography or other imaging can be planned to further evaluate any potential problem.

Ultimately, the second ultrasound is something to look forward to. Great information comes from the second trimester ultrasound regarding the health and welfare of mom and her baby. And, ok, it’s a little fun too.

 

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health here at www.mammographykc.com and general radiology at www.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

March 20, 2014

Ultrasound and Pregnancy: The First Trimester

Normal 12 week fetus on first trimester ultrasound. Hi Mom!

Normal 12 week fetus on first trimester ultrasound. Hi Mom!

When most people hear the term “ultrasound” one particular thought comes to mind: pregnancy. Every expectant parent loves a glimpse of who’s-to-come – and finding out which color to paint the nursery is a bonus for many!

However, ultrasound is far more powerful than simply providing in utero baby snapshots. Ultrasound has revolutionized the approach to pregnancy, giving information which can save lives – the baby’s or the mother’s or sometimes both. Ultrasound uses sound waves – not radiation – to produce images, so in trained hands it is safe to use at any time during pregnancy.

During the first trimester, ultrasound is used most frequently to confirm pregnancy (along with a blood test), to confirm the location of the pregnancy and to evaluate bleeding. In the first trimester, the ultrasound will likely involve images obtained through a distended bladder and a transvaginal exam.

Here’s what to expect:

First, you will be asked to come to the exam with a full bladder – we actually use the full bladder as a “window” through which we can view the pregnancy.

The first part of the exam with the bladder full will be done using a transducer across your belly to get a view of the uterus and your pelvis. This is most helpful in demonstrating the pregnancy location. Once these images are obtained, you will be able to empty your bladder and return for what is called a transvaginal ultrasound. This involves a small probe being placed into the vagina to image the pregnancy and pelvic structures. This transducer allows better depiction of the pelvic structures and will allow more detailed evaluation – this is used in the first trimester and occasionally later in pregnancy. In the first trimester when the pregnancy is so small, the transvaginal part of the study is often key. There is usually little or no discomfort with the transvaginal study.

The whole process will take about half an hour.

What can we see in the first trimester?

It depends on the age of the pregnancy. When first visualized, the pregnancy will be a small fluid filled sac. At around 6.5  weeks, the embryo is often seen as a small peanut shaped structure – heart beating away. By the end of the first trimester, you can distinguish the head, trunk and the limbs. Everything is small, so in general gender will not be determined. We will evaluate the age of the pregnancy and compare to what you should be; confirm that the pregnancy is in the uterus; count babies – twins anyone? – look for the heartbeat, which we can only see once the embryo is big enough (7 mm is the key embryo size to expect to see a heartbeat!); and look at the pelvic structures. Fetal anatomic detail is limited by the small size, but it is amazing what you can see!

We know having babies is stressful – and not always easy! We wish you all the best, and hope this helps explain the process of the first trimester obstetric ultrasound.

February 25, 2014

What Is Ultrasound?

Philips - Ultrasound EPIQ - Abdominal by Philips Communications via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Philips – Ultrasound EPIQ – Abdominal by Philips Communications via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Today we will focus on another imaging technique that has revolutionized the practice of medicine in the past 3 decades. Ultrasound is a noninvasive form of imaging which uses sound waves to create images of the body. That’s right – sound waves!

An ultrasound technologist, also known as a sonographer, uses a transducer (probe) on the surface of the skin, connected to a computer. The transducer transmits sound waves into the body and then receives the sound waves as they come back to the transducer after they travel through and are reflected in the body. DIfferent tissues reflect and transmit the sound waves differently, allowing images to be created. A warm gel is applied to avoid air between the probe and the skin which can interfere with transmitting the sound waves.

How does it differ from other imaging techniques?

  • Firstly, ultrasound uses no ionizing radiation. It is a safe technique when performed properly with little risks to the patient, making it ideal for use in the young or pregnant patient.

  • Ultrasound can be used real-time, meaning images can be obtained while the patient is moving. This is particularly useful when studying things like joints or in directly assessing the exact site of symptoms.

  • The patient can be examined in different positions – for evaluating some structures, like leg veins, it may be helpful to examine the patient when they are upright. Joints may also require changes in patient position.

  • The machines are small – and getting smaller. For patients in the hospital, this means that the machine can be brought to the patient, rather than requiring the patient to move.

  • Doppler is an ultrasound technique which allows the study of blood flow, helpful in assessing many parts of the body, from the arteries in the neck to blood flow in the kidneys.

If you hear ultrasound and conjure images of pregnant women getting ultrasounds, you are not alone. Many are unaware of the number of applications of the technique in the body. With ultrasound, we can image most any part of the body – from the head to your toes and all parts between.