What is Ultrasound Imaging?

Ultrasound imaging (also called ultrasound scanning or sonography) is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high frequency sound waves. The reflected sound wave echoes are recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. No ionizing radiation (x-ray) is involved in ultrasound imaging.

Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body’s internal organs, including but not limited to the heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder. For urological purposes, your physician may have ordered a renal (kidneys), bladder, scrotal or penile ultrasound. Combinations of these procedures may be ordered as well (for example, renal and pelvic ultrasound).

How Does the Procedure Work?

Ultrasound scanners consist of a console containing a computer and electronics, a video display screen, and a transducer that is used to scan the body.

The transducer is a small hand-held device about the size of a bar of soap, attached to the scanner by a cord. The transducer functions as both a generator of sound (similar to a speaker) and a detector (like a microphone).

  • A ubricating gel is spread on the area being examined and then presses the transducer firmly against the skin to obtain images.
  • When the transducer is pressed against the skin it directs inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body.
  • As the sound echoes from the body’s fluids and tissues the transducer records the strength and character of the reflected waves.

These echoes are instantly measured and displayed by the scanner computer which creates a real time picture on the monitor.