The Many Uses Of Ultrasound

Many of us tend to think of ultrasound as technology for expecting parents to see their unborn child. While this is truly one of the most popular uses for it, it is far from the only use.

What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound, or sonogram is a safe, painless procedure which physicians all around the world use to see inside of their patient’s bodies using sound waves. Unlike x-rays, ultrasound exams do not use radiation. The images captured by ultrasound are also occurring in real time, so it is a great tool for physicians to see how internal organs interact with one another.

How Does Ultrasound Work?

This procedure uses a small probe called a transducer and gel placed directly on the skin. Then, high-frequency sound waves travel from the probe through the gel into the body. As the probe collects the sounds, they bounce back and are displayed on a computer, creating the image that we are all very familiar with.

As mentioned earlier, ultrasound is a useful way to see how the body’s organs are affecting one another. Medical professionals can use it to look at:

  • heart and blood vessels
  • liver
  • gallbladder
  • spleen
  • pancreas
  • kidneys
  • bladder
  • uterus, ovaries
  • fetus
  • eyes
  • thyroid and parathyroid glands
  • brain in infants
  • hips in infants
  • spine in infants

How Is Ultrasound Used In Medicine?

There are many ways doctors use ultrasound to enhance their procedures, and the two key ways they are used are in diagnostic ultrasound procedures, and ultrasound guided injections.

Diagnostic Ultrasound

Ultrasound is used by many physicians to diagnose conditions, including cancerous growths and abnormal blood flow. There are numerous reasons why many people opt for ultrasound for a diagnosis over other methods. Ultrasound offers better resolution of soft tissue than an MRI, and does not expose the patient to radiation. Plus, it is a simple, outpatient procedure that can be done within a day.

Ultrasound Guided Injections

One of the great advantages of ultrasound is the ability to use ultrasound to help the physician guide the needle when performing injections. While many injections traditionally are performed “blind,” without the help of guidance, studies have shown the poor accuracy rate of blind injections. Performing injections under ultrasound guidance helps ensure accurate needle placement and medication delivery. This improves both patient comfort and treatment efficacy. It also helps avoid placing the needle in nearby dangerous structures such as nerves, blood vessels, or other organs.

A recent study looked at the accuracy of hip joint injections done with ultrasound guidance. Ultrasound had a 97% accuracy rate. When comparing injections given into the piriformis muscle (a muscle deep in the buttocks that sits on top of the sciatic nerve) between ultrasound and fluoroscopy, one study showed that ultrasound guidance achieved a 95% accuracy rate, whereas fluoroscopy was accurate only 30% of the time in guiding the needle correctly.

Talk To An Ultrasound Expert

At ROSM, we use ultrasound to diagnose and guide our injection procedures to help ensure accuracy. If you’d like to learn more about how ultrasound could be a crucial part of your diagnosis, contact us today!

Written by Dr. John