Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce safe and painless internal images of the body. This non-invasive medical test is also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, which uses a small transducer (probe) and ultrasound gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves are transmitted from the probe through the gel into the body. The transducer collects the sounds that bounce back, and a computer then creates an image. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation (as used in X-Rays), and there is no radiation exposure to the patient. Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.
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 allows physicians to see and evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs, neck and brain (in infants and children) or within various organs such as the liver or kidneys.