Ultrasound is a medical imaging study, in which tissues and organs are visualized using sound waves. These sound waves have a high frequency, making them inaudible to the human ear. Therefore, this sound is also known as ultrasonic sound or ultrasound.
With ultrasound, soft tissues can be made visible. Therefore, it’s often used to view organs (such as kidneys) or muscles (such as heart). This will help doctors to identify the size, structure and any defects. In medicine, ultrasound is used in, among other things, radiology, cardiology, urology, podiatry and obstetrics-gynaecology. For pregnancies, ultrasound is often used to see the unborn child.
The ultrasound device is made up of a probe, also known as transducer. This transducer sends out the sound waves, but also captures the reflected sound waves again. The reflected sound waves are converted into an electrical signal, which is sent to a computer. The computer translates the signal into an image.
If organs include air, it isn’t possible to make an ultrasound there. The sound waves also cannot penetrate bone. There are 2D, 3D and 4D ultrasounds.
First, a special gel is lubricated to the probe. This gel ensures that there is no air between the probe and the body, because the sound waves cannot pass an air gap, no matter how thin. Next, the probe is put onto the body. When the proper place has been found, pictures are taken. So the doctor can see the images again at a later moment. If the ultrasound examination is ready, the gel is removed from the body.
Ultrasound is safe, sound waves cause no harm to the body. Depending on what needs to be investigated, the examination takes 10 to 30 minutes.