Ultrasound scans are a safe, non-invasive diagnostic tool that's available as part of the medical services at Central Primary Care. We've put together a brief Q&A about ultrasound scans, and how we use them to support your health.
What is an ultrasound scan?
An ultrasound scan, sometimes called a sonogram, is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of the body.
What is an ultrasound scan used for?
Ultrasound scans are useful to:
* diagnose the causes of pain, swelling, and infection in your internal organs, joints, and muscles
* monitor and evaluate pregnant women and their unborn baby
* evaluate heart function
At Central Primary Care, we find ultrasound scans very useful to aid in evaluating internal organs, including:
* uterus, ovaries, and unborn child in pregnant patients
* thyroid and parathyroid glands
* the scrotum and testicles
* blood vessels
We also find ultrasound scans valuable in assessing your soft tissues, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and joints, to diagnose injuries, including sprains, strains, tears, arthritis, trapped nerves, and musculoskeletal conditions.
How do ultrasound scans work?
A small device called an ultrasound probe is used, which gives off high-frequency sound waves. You can't hear these sound waves, but when they bounce off different parts of the body, they create "echoes" that are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image. This image is displayed on a monitor while the scan is carried out.
How should you prepare for an ultrasound?
Before having some types of ultrasound scan, we may ask you to follow certain instructions to help
improve the quality of the images produced. For example, you may be advised to:
* Drink plenty of water and not use the toilet until after the scan. (This is most commonly recommended before a scan during pregnancy, or a scan of the pelvic area or bladder.)
* Avoid eating or drinking for several hours before the scan. (This is often recommended before an abdominal scan of organs including the liver and gallbladder.)
What happens during an ultrasound scan?
An ultrasound scan typically lasts between 15 and 45 minutes.
During an ultrasound, a water-based, non-staining lubricating gel is applied to your skin to allow the ultrasound probe to move smoothly. This also ensures continuous contact between the probe and the skin.
The probe is placed on your skin and moved over the part of the body being examined.
You shouldn't feel anything other than the sensor and gel (which can feel a bit cold).
If you're having a scan of your womb or pelvic area and your bladder is full, you may have temporary discomfort. (You'll be able to use the bathroom as soon as the scan is complete.)
What happens after an ultrasound scan?
In most cases, there are no after-effects from an ultrasound. You can go home and resume normal activities after the scan is finished.
Are there any risks or side effects to an ultrasound at Central Primary Care?
There are no known risks from the sound waves used in our ultrasound scans. Unlike some other scans, such as CT scans, ultrasound scans also don't involve any exposure to radiation.
Our ultrasound scans don't have any side effects and are generally painless, although you may experience minor discomfort as the probe is pressed over your skin if that area is tender or injured.