Ultra Sonography Resource Information For Patient


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the body's internal structures that are clearer, more detailed and more likely in some instances to identify and accurately characterize disease than other imaging methods. It is used to evaluate the body for a variety of conditions, including tumors and diseases of the liver, heart, and bowel. It may also be used to monitor an unborn child in the womb. MRI is noninvasive and does not use ionizing radiation. For the benefits and risks of a specific MRI procedure, how to prepare, and more, select a topic below.

Ultrasound - Scrotum

 

Ultrasound imaging of the scrotum uses sound waves to produce pictures of a man’s testicles and surrounding tissues. It is the primary method used to help evaluate disorders of the testicles, epididymis (a tube immediately next to a testicle that collects sperm) and scrotum. Ultrasound is safe, noninvasive, and does not use ionizing radiation.

This procedure requires little to no special preparation. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown.

 

What is Ultrasound Imaging of the Scrotum?

Ultrasound imaging of the scrotum provides pictures of a male’s testicles and the surrounding tissues.

Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of 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 uses those sound waves to create an image. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays), thus 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.

Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

 

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Ultrasound imaging of the scrotum is the primary imaging method used to evaluate disorders of the testicles, epididymis (a tube immediately next to a testis that collects sperm made by the testicle) and scrotum.

This study is typically used to:

  • determine whether a mass in the scrotum felt by the patient or doctor is cystic or solid and its location.
  • diagnose results of trauma to the scrotal area.
  • diagnose causes of testicular pain or swelling such as inflammation or torsion.
  • evaluate the cause of infertility such as varicocele.
  • look for the location of undescended testis.

A sudden onset of pain in the scrotum should be taken very seriously. The most common cause of scrotal pain is epididymitis, an inflammation of the epididymis. It is treatable with antibiotics. If left untreated, this condition can lead to an abscess or loss of blood flow to the testicles.

Ultrasound can often detect an absent or undescended testicle as well. It is estimated that approximately three percent of full-term baby boys have undescended testicles. The testicle normally migrates from the abdomen, down the inguinal canal and then into the usual position in the scrotal sac. If not present in the scrotal sac, the testicle may have stopped on its way and lie in the inguinal region, in which case the ultrasound examination will often see it. If the testicle has not left the abdominal cavity, it may not be seen by sonography. If a testicle is not detected, a urologist may be consulted in order to decide whether additional imaging such as an MRI is needed to determine its location. If the testicle is found to be in the inguinal region, it can be moved into the scrotum. If left in the abdomen too long, it may become cancerous and may need to be removed.

Ultrasound can identify testicular torsion, the twisting of the spermatic cord that contains the vessels that supply blood to the testicle. Caused by abnormally loose attachments of tissues that are formed during fetal development, torsion commonly appears during adolescence, and less often in the neonatal period, and is very painful. Torsion requires immediate surgery to avoid permanent damage to the testes.

Ultrasound also can be used to locate and evaluate masses (lumps or tumors) in the testicle or elsewhere in the scrotum. Collections of fluid and abnormalities of the blood vessels may appear as masses and can be assessed by ultrasound. Masses both outside and within the testicles may be benign or malignant and should be evaluated as soon as they are detected.

 

How should I prepare?

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam. You may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined.

You may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure.

No other preparation is required.

 

What does the equipment look like?

Ultrasound scanners consist of a console containing a computer and electronics, a video display screen and a transducer that is used to do the scanning. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone, attached to the scanner by a cord. Some exams may use different transducers (with different capabilities) during a single exam. The transducer sends out inaudible, high—frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes from the tissues in the body. The principles are similar to sonar used by boats and submarines.

The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a video display screen that looks like a computer or television monitor. The image is created based on the amplitude (loudness), frequency (pitch) and time it takes for the ultrasound signal to return from the area within the patient that is being examined to the transducer (the device used to examine the patient), as well as the type of body structure and composition of body tissue through which the sound travels. A small amount of gel is put on the skin to allow the sound waves to best travel from the transducer to the examined area within the body and then back again.

In order to perform a scrotal sonogram, most commonly a linear small parts transducer is used.

 

How does the procedure work?

Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by bats, ships and fishermen. When a sound wave strikes an object, it bounces back, or echoes. By measuring these echo waves, it is possible to determine how far away the object is as well as the object's size, shape and consistency (whether the object is solid or filled with fluid).

In medicine, ultrasound is used to detect changes in appearance, size or contour of organs, tissues, and vessels or detect abnormal masses, such as tumors.

In an ultrasound examination, a transducer both sends the sound waves and receives the echoing waves. When the transducer is pressed against the skin, it directs small pulses of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce off internal organs, fluids and tissues, the sensitive microphone in the transducer records tiny changes in the sound's pitch and direction. These signature waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor. One or more frames of the moving pictures are typically captured as still images. Small loops of the moving real-time images may also be saved.

 

How is the procedure performed?

For most ultrasound exams, you will be positioned lying face-up on an examination table that can be tilted or moved. Patients may be turned to either side or on occasion placed in a face down position to improve the quality of the images.

After you are positioned on the examination table, the radiologist or sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied. The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.

There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. However, if scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer.

Once the imaging is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry to a powder. The ultrasound gel does not stain or discolor clothing.

 

What will I experience during and after the procedure?

Ultrasound examinations are painless and easily tolerated by most patients.

Ultrasound imaging of the scrotum is usually completed within 15 to 30 minutes, though sometimes more time is necessary.

When the examination is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.

After an ultrasound examination, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.

 

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care physician, or to the physician or other healthcare provider who requested the exam, and he/she will share the results with you. In some cases the radiologist may discuss results with you at the conclusion of your examination.

Follow-up examinations may be necessary, and your doctor will explain the exact reason why another exam is requested. Sometimes a follow-up exam is done because a suspicious or questionable finding needs clarification with additional views or a special imaging technique. A follow-up examination may also be necessary so that any change in a known abnormality can be monitored over time. Follow-up examinations are sometimes the best way to see if treatment is working or if an abnormality is stable or changed over time.

 

What are the benefits vs. risks?

Benefits

Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections).

Occasionally, an ultrasound exam may be temporarily uncomfortable, but it is almost never painful.

Ultrasound is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods.

Ultrasound imaging is extremely safe and does not use any ionizing radiation.

Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.

Ultrasound provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and fluid aspiration.

Risks

For standard diagnostic ultrasound, there are no known harmful effects on humans.

 

What are the limitations of Scrotal Ultrasound Imaging?

Ultrasound of the scrotum is helpful for finding abnormalities such as masses in the scrotum or testicles. However, it does not always permit an exact diagnosis (i.e., the exact type of tissue a mass is composed of, especially when the mass is solid). Blood flow images of the testicles are not always reliable in determining the presence or absence of blood supply to a testicle that has twisted. When searching for an absent testicle, ultrasound may not be able to find it if it is located in the abdomen because gas filled bowel loops may block the view.

Obstetric Ultrasound

 

Obstetric ultrasound uses sound waves to produce pictures of a baby (embryo or fetus) within a pregnant woman, as well as the mother's uterus and ovaries. It does not use ionizing radiation, has no known harmful effects, and is the preferred method for monitoring pregnant women and their unborn babies. A Doppler ultrasound study – a technique that evaluates blood flow in the umbilical cord, fetus or placenta – may be part of this exam.

This procedure requires little to no special preparation. Since only your lower abdominal area needs to be exposed for this exam, you may want to wear a loose-fitting, two-piece outfit. Leave jewelry at home.

 

What is Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging?

Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of 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 uses those sound waves to create an image. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays), thus 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.

Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

Obstetrical ultrasound provides pictures of an embryo or fetus within a woman's uterus, as well as the mother's uterus and ovaries.

A Doppler ultrasound study may be part of an obstetrical ultrasound examination.

Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that allows the physician to see and evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs, neck and/or brain (in infants and children) or within various body organs such as the liver or kidneys.

During an obstetrical ultrasound the examiner may evaluate blood flow in the umbilical cord or may, in some cases, assess blood flow in the fetus or placenta.

 

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Obstetrical ultrasound is a useful clinical test to:

establish the presence of a living embryo/fetus

estimate the age of the pregnancy

diagnose congenital abnormalities of the fetus

evaluate the position of the fetus

evaluate the position of the placenta

determine if there are multiple pregnancies

determine the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby

check for opening or shortening of the cervix

assess fetal growth

assess fetal well-being

Some physicians also use 3-D ultrasound to image the fetus and determine if it is developing normally.

 

How should I prepare?

You should wear a loose-fitting, two-piece outfit for the examination. Only the lower abdominal area needs to be exposed during this procedure.

The radiologist or sonographer may elect to examine an early pregnancy by means of transvaginal ultrasound in order to see the pregnancy more closely or to assess the cervix. For more information on transvaginal ultrasound, see the Pelvic Ultrasound page.

 

What does the equipment look like?

Ultrasound scanners consist of a console containing a computer and electronics, a video display screen and a transducer that is used to do the scanning. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone, attached to the scanner by a cord. Some exams may use different transducers (with different capabilities) during a single exam. The transducer sends out inaudible, high—frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes from the tissues in the body. The principles are similar to sonar used by boats and submarines.

The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a video display screen that looks like a computer or television monitor. The image is created based on the amplitude (loudness), frequency (pitch) and time it takes for the ultrasound signal to return from the area within the patient that is being examined to the transducer (the device used to examine the patient), as well as the type of body structure and composition of body tissue through which the sound travels. A small amount of gel is put on the skin to allow the sound waves to best travel from the transducer to the examined area within the body and then back again.

 

How does the procedure work?

Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by bats, ships and fishermen. When a sound wave strikes an object, it bounces back, or echoes. By measuring these echo waves, it is possible to determine how far away the object is as well as the object's size, shape and consistency (whether the object is solid or filled with fluid).

In medicine, ultrasound is used to detect changes in appearance, size or contour of organs, tissues, and vessels or detect abnormal masses, such as tumors.

In an ultrasound examination, a transducer both sends the sound waves and receives the echoing waves. When the transducer is pressed against the skin, it directs small pulses of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce off internal organs, fluids and tissues, the sensitive microphone in the transducer records tiny changes in the sound's pitch and direction. These signature waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor. One or more frames of the moving pictures are typically captured as still images. Small loops of the moving real-time images may also be saved.

The movement of the embryo or fetus and his or her heartbeat can be seen as an ongoing ultrasound movie. Most ultrasound devices also have an audio component that processes the echoes produced by blood flowing through the fetal heart, blood vessels and umbilical cord. This sound can be made audible to human ears and has been described by patients as a whooshing noise.

Doppler ultrasound, a special application of ultrasound, measures the direction and speed of blood cells as they move through vessels. The movement of blood cells causes a change in pitch of the reflected sound waves (called the Doppler effect). A computer collects and processes the sounds and creates graphs or color pictures that represent the flow of blood through the blood vessels.

 

How is the procedure performed?

For most ultrasound exams, you will be positioned lying face-up on an examination table that can be tilted or moved. Patients may be turned to either side or on occasion placed in a face down position to improve the quality of the images.

After you are positioned on the examination table, the radiologist or sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied. The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.

There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. However, if scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer.

Once the imaging is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry to a powder. The ultrasound gel does not stain or discolor clothing.

Sometimes the radiologist determines that a transvaginal scan needs to be performed. This technique often provides improved, more detailed images of the uterus and ovaries. This method of scanning is especially useful in early pregnancy.

Transvaginal ultrasound is performed very much like a gynecologic exam and involves the insertion of the transducer into the vagina after you empty your bladder. The tip of the transducer is smaller than the standard speculum used when performing a Pap test. A protective cover is placed over the transducer, lubricated with a small amount of gel, and then inserted into the vagina. Only two to three inches of the transducer end are inserted into the vagina. The images are obtained from different orientations to get the best views of the uterus and ovaries. Transvaginal ultrasound is usually performed with you lying on your back, possibly with your feet in stirrups similar to a gynecologic exam.

Doppler sonography is performed using the same transducer.

 

What will I experience during and after the procedure?

Ultrasound examinations are painless and easily tolerated by most patients.

However, at times during an obstetrical ultrasound, the sonographer may have to press more firmly to get closer to the embryo or fetus to visualize the structure better. Any discomfort is usually minimal and temporary.

At times the sonographer may have to press more firmly to get closer to the embryo or fetus to visualize the structure better. Any discomfort is usually minimal and temporary.

If a Doppler ultrasound study is performed, you may actually hear pulse-like sounds that change in pitch as the blood flow is monitored and measured.

With transvaginal scanning, there may be minimal discomfort as the transducer is inserted into the vagina.

This ultrasound examination is usually completed within 30 minutes.

When the examination is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.

After an ultrasound examination, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.

 

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care physician, or to the physician or other healthcare provider who requested the exam, and he/she will share the results with you. In some cases the radiologist may discuss results with you at the conclusion of your examination.

Follow-up examinations may be necessary, and your doctor will explain the exact reason why another exam is requested. Sometimes a follow-up exam is done because a suspicious or questionable finding needs clarification with additional views or a special imaging technique. A follow-up examination may also be necessary so that any change in a known abnormality can be monitored over time. Follow-up examinations are sometimes the best way to see if treatment is working or if an abnormality is stable or changed over time.

 

What are the benefits vs. risks?

Benefits

Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections).

Occasionally, an ultrasound exam may be temporarily uncomfortable, but it is almost never painful.

Ultrasound is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods.

Ultrasound imaging is extremely safe and does not use any ionizing radiation.

Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.

Ultrasound is the preferred imaging modality for the diagnosis and monitoring of pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Ultrasound has been used to evaluate pregnancy for nearly four decades and there has been no evidence of harm to the patient, embryo or fetus. Nevertheless, ultrasound should be performed only when medically indicated.

Ultrasound allows the doctor to see inside the uterus and provides much information about the pregnancy.

Risks

For standard diagnostic ultrasound, there are no known harmful effects on humans.

 

What are the limitations of Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging?

Obstetric ultrasound cannot identify all fetal abnormalities. Consequently, when there are clinical or laboratory suspicions for a possible abnormality, a pregnant woman may have to undergo nonradiologic testing such as amniocentesis (the evaluation of fluid taken from the sac surrounding the fetus) or chorionic villus sampling (evaluation of placental tissue) to determine the health of the fetus, or she may be referred by her primary care provider to a perinatologist (an obstetrician specializing in high-risk pregnancies).

Ultrasound - Breast

What is Ultrasound Imaging of the Breast?

Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of 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 uses those sound waves to create an image. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays), thus 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.

Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

Ultrasound imaging of the breast produces a picture of the internal structures of the breast.

Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that allows the physician to see and evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs, neck and/or brain (in infants and children) or within various body organs such as the liver or kidneys.

During a breast ultrasound examination the sonographer or physician performing the test may use Doppler techniques to evaluate blood flow or lack of flow in any breast mass. In some cases this may provide additional information as to the cause of the mass.

 

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Determining the Nature of a Breast Abnormality

The primary use of breast ultrasound today is to help diagnose breast abnormalities detected by a physician during a physical exam (such as a lump or bloody or spontaneous clear nipple discharge) and to characterize potential abnormalities seen on mammography or breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Ultrasound imaging can help to determine if an abnormality is solid (which may be a non-cancerous lump of tissue or a cancerous tumor) or fluid-filled (such as a benign cyst) or both cystic and solid. Ultrasound can also help show additional features of the abnormal area.

Doppler ultrasound is used to assess blood supply in breast lesions.

Supplemental Breast Cancer Screening

Mammography is the only screening tool for breast cancer that is known to reduce deaths due to breast cancer through early detection. Even so, mammograms do not detect all breast cancers. Some breast lesions and abnormalities are not visible or are difficult to interpret on mammograms. In breasts that are dense, meaning there is a lot of ducts, glands, fibrous tissue and less fat, many cancers can be hard to see on mammography.

Many studies have shown that ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help supplement mammography by detecting breast cancers that may not be visible with mammography. MRI is more sensitive than ultrasound in depicting breast cancer, but MRI may not be available to all women. If screening MRI is performed, then screening ultrasound is not needed, though ultrasound may be used to characterize and biopsy abnormalities seen on MRI. When ultrasound is used for screening, many more abnormalities that may require biopsy are seen than are seen with mammography or MRI. These abnormalities usually are not cancer (false positives), and this limits its usefulness.

Ultrasound can be offered as a screening tool for women who:

  • are at high risk for breast cancer and unable to undergo an MRI examination.
  • are pregnant or should not be exposed to x-rays (which is necessary for a mammogram).

Ultrasound-guided Breast Biopsy

When an ultrasound examination reveals a suspicious breast abnormality, a physician may choose to perform an ultrasound-guided biopsy. Because ultrasound provides real-time images, it is often used to guide biopsy procedures. An ultrasound exam will usually need to be performed before the biopsy in order to plan the procedure and to determine if this method of biopsy can be used.

 

How should I prepare?

You will be asked to undress from the waist up and to wear a gown during the procedure.

 

What does the equipment look like?

Ultrasound scanners consist of a console containing a computer and electronics, a video display screen and a transducer that is used to do the scanning. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone, attached to the scanner by a cord. Some exams may use different transducers (with different capabilities) during a single exam. The transducer sends out inaudible, high—frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes from the tissues in the body. The principles are similar to sonar used by boats and submarines.

The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a video display screen that looks like a computer or television monitor. The image is created based on the amplitude (loudness), frequency (pitch) and time it takes for the ultrasound signal to return from the area within the patient that is being examined to the transducer (the device used to examine the patient), as well as the type of body structure and composition of body tissue through which the sound travels. A small amount of gel is put on the skin to allow the sound waves to best travel from the transducer to the examined area within the body and then back again.

 

How does the procedure work?

Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by bats, ships and fishermen. When a sound wave strikes an object, it bounces back, or echoes. By measuring these echo waves, it is possible to determine how far away the object is as well as the object's size, shape and consistency (whether the object is solid or filled with fluid).

In medicine, ultrasound is used to detect changes in appearance, size or contour of organs, tissues, and vessels or detect abnormal masses, such as tumors.

In an ultrasound examination, a transducer both sends the sound waves and receives the echoing waves. When the transducer is pressed against the skin, it directs small pulses of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce off internal organs, fluids and tissues, the sensitive microphone in the transducer records tiny changes in the sound's pitch and direction. These signature waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor. One or more frames of the moving pictures are typically captured as still images. Small loops of the moving real-time images may also be saved.

Doppler ultrasound, a special application of ultrasound, measures the direction and speed of blood cells as they move through vessels. The movement of blood cells causes a change in pitch of the reflected sound waves (called the Doppler effect). A computer collects and processes the sounds and creates graphs or color pictures that represent the flow of blood through the blood vessels.

 

How is the procedure performed?

You will lie on your back on the examining table and may be asked to raise your arm above your head.

After you are positioned on the examination table, the radiologist or sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied. The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.

There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. However, if scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer.

Doppler sonography is performed using the same transducer.

Once the imaging is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry to a powder. The ultrasound gel does not stain or discolor clothing.

 

What will I experience during and after the procedure?

Ultrasound examinations are painless and easily tolerated by most patients.

Breast ultrasound is usually completed within 30 minutes.

If a Doppler ultrasound study is performed, you may actually hear pulse-like sounds that change in pitch as the blood flow is monitored and measured.

You may be asked to change positions during the exam.

When the examination is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.

After an ultrasound examination, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.

 

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care physician, or to the physician or other healthcare provider who requested the exam, and he/she will share the results with you. In some cases the radiologist may discuss results with you at the conclusion of your examination.

Follow-up examinations may be necessary, and your doctor will explain the exact reason why another exam is requested. Sometimes a follow-up exam is done because a suspicious or questionable finding needs clarification with additional views or a special imaging technique. A follow-up examination may also be necessary so that any change in a known abnormality can be monitored over time. Follow-up examinations are sometimes the best way to see if treatment is working or if an abnormality is stable or changed over time.

 

What are the benefits vs. risks?

Benefits

Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections).

Occasionally, an ultrasound exam may be temporarily uncomfortable, but it is almost never painful.

Ultrasound is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods.

Ultrasound imaging is extremely safe and does not use any ionizing radiation.

Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.

Ultrasound provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and fluid aspiration.

Ultrasound imaging can help detect lesions in women with dense breasts.

Ultrasound may help detect and classify a breast lesion that cannot be interpreted adequately through mammography alone.

Using ultrasound, physicians are able to determine that many areas of clinical concern are due to normal tissue (such as fat lobules) or benign cysts. For most women 30 years of age and older, a mammogram will be used together with ultrasound. For women under age 30, ultrasound alone is often sufficient to determine whether an area of concern needs a biopsy or not.

Risks

For standard diagnostic ultrasound, there are no known harmful effects on humans.

Interpretation of a breast ultrasound examination may lead to additional procedures such as follow-up ultrasound and/or aspiration or biopsy. Many of the areas thought to be of concern only on ultrasound turn out to be non-cancerous.

 

What are the limitations of Ultrasound Imaging of the Breast?

Ultrasound is one of the tools used in breast imaging, but it does not replace annual mammography and careful clinical breast examination.

Many cancers are not visible on ultrasound.

Biopsy may be recommended to determine if a suspicious abnormality is cancer or not.

Most suspicious findings on ultrasound that require biopsy are not cancers.

Many calcifications seen on mammography cannot be seen on ultrasound. Some early breast cancers only show up as calcifications on mammography. MRI findings that are due to cancer are not always seen with ultrasound.

Many facilities do not offer ultrasound screening, and the procedure may not be covered by some insurance plans.

It is important to choose a facility with expertise in breast ultrasound, preferably one where the radiologists specialize in breast imaging. Ultrasound depends on the abnormality being recognized at the time of the scan as it is a "real-time" examination. This requires experience and good equipment. One measure of a facility's expertise in breast ultrasound can be found in its ACR accreditation status. Check the facilities in your area by searching the ACR-accredited facilities database.

Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy of the Thyroid

 

What is Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy of the Thyroid?

During a fine needle aspiration biopsy of the thyroid, a small sample of tissue is removed from the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in front of the neck just above the neckline and is shaped like a butterfly, with two lobes on either side of the neck connected by a narrow band of tissue.

Nodules or abnormalities in the body are often detected by imaging examinations. However, it is not always possible to tell from these imaging tests whether a nodule is benign (non-cancerous) or cancerous.

A needle biopsy, also called a needle aspiration, involves removing some cells—in a less invasive procedure involving a hollow needle—from a suspicious area within the body and examining them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis.

 

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Thyroid biopsy is used to find the cause of a nodule in the thyroid gland.

When a nodule is detected, imaging tests may be performed to help determine if it is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If imaging studies cannot clearly define the abnormality, a biopsy may be necessary.

 

How should I prepare?

Please notify your physician if you are taking any blood thinning agents, such as aspirin, Lovenox®, Plavix® or Coumadin®.

Usually, no special preparations are required for this procedure.

For biopsies performed in children, sedation may be used. Specific instructions will be given at the time of scheduling.

 

What does the equipment look like?

The needle used is a thin, fine-gauge needle that is smaller in diameter than the needle used in most blood draws (usually a 25 or 27 gauge 1.5 inch needle). The aspiration may be done with a needle or with a needle that is attached to a syringe. The syringe may be in a plastic or metal holder to make it easier for the doctor to aspirate the cells.

Ultrasound is used to guide accurate placement of the needle within the thyroid nodule.

Ultrasound scanners consist of a console containing a computer and electronics, a video display screen and a transducer that is used to do the scanning. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone, attached to the scanner by a cord. Some exams may use different transducers (with different capabilities) during a single exam. The transducer sends out inaudible, high—frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes from the tissues in the body. The principles are similar to sonar used by boats and submarines.

The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a video display screen that looks like a computer or television monitor. The image is created based on the amplitude (loudness), frequency (pitch) and time it takes for the ultrasound signal to return from the area within the patient that is being examined to the transducer (the device used to examine the patient), as well as the type of body structure and composition of body tissue through which the sound travels. A small amount of gel is put on the skin to allow the sound waves to best travel from the transducer to the examined area within the body and then back again.

 

 

How does the procedure work?

The physician inserts a fine gauge needle through the skin and advances it into the thyroid nodule.

Samples of the cells are then obtained and put on a slide for review by the pathologist.

 

How is the procedure performed?

Image-guided, minimally invasive procedures such as fine needle aspiration of the thyroid are most often performed by a specially trained radiologist with experience in needle aspirations and ultrasound.

Needle biopsies are usually done on an outpatient basis.

The neck will be cleansed with antiseptic. Medicine to numb the area may or may not be used. An ultrasound transducer with a small amount of sterile water soluble gel will be placed on your neck over the thyroid nodule. The radiologist will insert the needle through the skin under direct imaging guidance, advance it to the site of the thyroid nodule and aspirate samples of tissue. After the sampling, the needle will be removed. New needles will be reinserted if additional samples are required. Several specimens may be needed for a complete analysis.

Once the biopsy is complete, pressure will be applied to the area to decrease the risk of bleeding. A bandage may be placed if necessary. No sutures are needed.

This procedure is usually completed in less than 30 minutes.

 

What will I experience during and after the procedure?

During the test, you will lie on your back with a pillow under your shoulders, your head tipped backward, and your neck extended. This position makes it easier for the radiologist to access the thyroid gland.

You may feel some pressure on your neck from the ultrasound transducer and mild discomfort as the needle is moved to obtain the cells.

You will be asked to remain still and not to cough, talk, swallow or make a sound during the procedure.

Aftercare instructions vary, but generally you can resume normal activities and any bandage can be removed within a few hours.

The biopsy site may be sore and tender for one to two days. You may take nonprescription pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, to relieve any discomfort.

 

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A pathologist examines the removed specimen and makes a final diagnosis so that treatment planning can begin. Depending on the facility, the radiologist or your referring physician will discuss the results with you.

 

What are the benefits vs. risks?

Benefits

The results of needle biopsy of the thyroid are close to 95% accurate for adequate biopsies.

Needle biopsy is a reliable method of obtaining tissue samples that can help diagnose whether a nodule is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant.

A needle biopsy is less invasive than open and closed surgical biopsies, both of which involve a larger incision in the skin and local or general anesthesia.

Generally, the procedure is not painful and the results are as accurate as when a tissue sample is removed surgically.

Recovery time is brief and patients can soon resume their usual activities.

Risks

Bleeding at the site of biopsy.

Infection.

Injury to structures adjacent to the thyroid.

 

What are the limitations of Coronary CTA?

Complications of thyroid biopsy are rare since the procedure is done under direct imaging guidance and with a fine needle.

 

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