Ultrasound - Including Breast and Vascular Ultrasound.

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within the body. These waves are directed into the body through a transducer, a type of probe. The waves reflect off the internal structures and the returned echoes are captured by the transducer and then processed by a computer. Ultrasound produces real time or moving images. Ultrasound is often used to evaluate solid or fluid-containing organs in the abdomen and pelvis. Other tissues commonly evaluated by ultrasound included the breasts, thyroid, and testicles. Ultrasound is also frequently used to detect and measure blood flow in arteries and veins.

What should I expect?

Most ultrasound examinations are performed while you are lying on an exam table. Clear gel is applied to the area of interest to provide a smooth interface for scanning. The transducer is moved across the skin, sending sound waves and capturing the echoes produced.

Ultrasound is painless, but some examinations require a full bladder, which can be somewhat uncomfortable.

How should I prepare?

Most ultrasound procedures do not require pre-procedural preparation. Abdomen ultrasounds may require that you not eat or drink for several hours before the examination. Pelvic ultrasound requires drinking a quart of water and not emptying your bladder until directed to do so by the technologist. Often you will be asked to wear an exam gown for the study (this prevents gel from coming in contact with your clothing).

How do I get the results?

After your ultrasound procedure is complete, the TRG radiologists will review your study and report the findings to your ordering physician. Follow up with your physician for scan results and care plan.

Your Ultrasound procedure can be performed at:

Breast Ultrasound

What is Breast Ultrasound?

Breast Ultrasound is frequently used to evaluate breast abnormalities found during a screening, diagnostic mammogram or breast exam. Ultrasound is excellent in identifying whether a questionable area in the breast is cystic, or fluid filled, or a solid structure. These findings are beneficial in deciding if the biopsy sample of tissue is required for diagnosis.

What Should I Expect?

Breast ultrasound is performed by a sonographer. You will lie on a table and after the technologist applies a clear gel they will pass a transducer or probe over the breast to acquire images of the area. The gel provides a "smooth pavement" for the transducer's travel and can be easily be removed.

How Should I Prepare?

There is no pre examination preparation. You will be asked to change into an exam gown prior to your scan.

Vascular Ultrasound

What is Vascular Ultrasound Imaging?

Vascular Imaging involves the sending of sound waves through the body. The sound waves bounce off the internal organs. Special instruments that subsequently create an image of anatomic parts then interpret them. No radiation (x-ray) is involved in vascular ultrasound imaging.

Ultrasound is a valuable tool when evaluating the body's circulatory system. The images are captured in real-time to help radiologists monitor the blood flow to organs and tissues throughout the body. With ultrasound images, radiologists can identify stenosis or blockage as well as blood clots, plaque, or emboli, and help plan for their effective treatment.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Vascular ultrasound of the body's veins and arteries can assist the radiologist in evaluating blockages in blood flow, like clots in veins and plaque in arteries. This information can often determine whether a patient is a likely candidate for a procedure. Ultrasound images may also be used in planning or to review the success of graft procedures. Ultrasound of the veins may identify blood clots that require treatment such as anticoagulant therapy (blood thinner) or filters to prevent clots from traveling to the lungs (embolism).

Ultrasound of the vascular system also provides a fast, noninvasive method of identifying blockages of blood flow in the neck arteries to the brain that might produce a stroke or mini-stroke.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam. No other preparation is required. If your abdominal vessels are being studied, we will ask you to fast prior to the procedure.

What does the equipment look like?

The equipment consists of a transducer and a monitor. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone. The radiologist or sonographer will use gel on the area to create smooth scanning pavement, and then presses this device firmly against the skin.

The transducer passes the image to the ultrasound machine and from there to a viewing monitor. The radiologist or technologist can watch the screen during an examination and chooses images for storage. Your blood flow also produces sound which can be heard with ultrasound. You may also hear the sounds.

How does the procedure work?

Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used on submarines. The sound bounces against your organs producing echoes. These echoing waves identify distance, shape and consistency of your internal structure (fluid, solid or mixed).

The ultrasound transducer creates the sound and then becomes microphone to record them. These returning echoes are measured and displayed by a computer, creating a real-time picture on the monitor. In addition, still frames can be captured as reproducible images. Vascular ultrasound can measure blood flow by changes in the pitch of the sound beam. This measurement is known as the Doppler effect and can be heard or detected with color depiction.

How is the procedure performed?

You will be asked to lie on an examination table that tilts and moves.

A clear gel is applied to the area that will be examined. The gel helps to create a smooth pavement for scanning and eliminates air pockets. Sound waves are unable to penetrate air. The sonographer sweeps the transducer along the area of interest, reviewing the scans on the monitor and capturing key scans of interest.

Vascular ultrasound is used to evaluate veins as well as arteries and is often used to detect blot clots in the lower legs. This imaging request is often considered emergent in order to begin an immediate patient care plan.

When the examination is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed and when indicated the radiologist has had an opportunity to communicate the results to your physician.

What Will I Experience During the Procedure?

Most ultrasound studies take a minimal amount of time and are painless. You will be asked to lie on an examining table that may be tilted or moved to provide access to the area that will be imaged. The sonographer or radiologist will spread some gel on your skin and then press the transducer firmly against your body, moving it until the desired images are captured. Most exams take less than 30 minutes; more complicated examinations may take somewhat longer.

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist experienced in ultrasound and other radiology examinations will review the images and send a report to your personal physician. Generally, you will receive results of the examination from your physician.