Posts tagged ‘wand’

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))

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.