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Types of Ultrasounds (Sonogram)

Ultrasound Services in New Jersey

Atlantic Medical Imaging offers many different types of ultrasound at our practices throughout New Jersey. We provide a brief overview of various types of ultrasounds below.

Abdominal Ultrasound

An abdominal ultrasound is a useful way of examining internal organs, including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder. This can help to diagnose a variety of conditions and to assess the damage caused by illness. Because it provides real-time images, ultrasound can also be used to:

  • Guide procedures such as needle biopsies, in which needles are used to sample cells from organs for laboratory testing.
  • Help a physician determine the source of many abdominal pains, such as stones in the gallbladder or kidney.
  • Help identify the cause for enlargement of an abdominal organ.
  • Doppler ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound study that examines major blood vessels. These images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
  • Blockages to blood flow, such as clots.
  • Build-up of plaque inside the vessel.
  • Congenital malformation.

Pelvic Ultrasound Imaging

Pelvic ultrasounds are one of the most well-known forms of ultrasound, being one of the imaging test used to monitor the health of the embryo or fetus during pregnancy. Aside from maternity medicine, these ultrasounds are also used to examine the uterus, ovaries, bladder, and prostate gland.

Pelvic ultrasound is often used to diagnose conditions or the cause of conditions such as:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Menstrual problems
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Ovarian and uterine cancers
  • Kidney and bladder stones

Transabdominal

Patients receiving a transabdominal ultrasound need to have a full urinary bladder. Like other ultrasound procedures, patients lie on their back as a gel is applied to the abdomen. The transducer is then rubbed over the examination are and releases sound waves. This is a fairly straightforward ultrasound exam.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

For a transvaginal ultrasound, a woman needs to empty her bladder the same way she would for a gynecological exam. She also lies face up on her back with feet in stirrups. The transducer of the ultrasound needs to be inserted for this test. The transducer is smaller than the standard speculum used in Pap tests. A protective cover and gel for lubrication is placed on the transducer before it is inserted in the vagina.

Only the first two to three inches of the transducer is inserted in the vagina. The doctor may move it around to obtain images from different angles. The most common reason for transvaginal pelvic ultrasounds is to look for the cause of pelvic pain. Most patients report that this exam is more comfortable than a manual gynecologic examination.

Transrectal

In order to perform an ultrasound on the prostate gland, the transducer must be inserted through the rectum so that the sound waves can travel to the prostate. As with other inserted ultrasound procedures, the transducer is covered with a protective cover and lubrication before insertion. The transducer will need to be moved around in order to obtain images from different angles. These exams are typically performed with the patient lying down on their left side and knees bent up towards the chest.

The doctor may recommend a biopsy be performed if a lesion is found during the exam. In a biopsy, the radiologist uses the ultrasound images to guide a needle towards the prostate gland and extract a sample of the abnormal tissue. Ultrasound-guided biopsies are minimally invasive and only require a small incision.

Obstetric Ultrasound Imaging

Obstetric ultrasound (OB ultrasound) refers to the specialized use of sound waves to visualize and thus determine the condition of a pregnant woman and her embryo or fetus. Obstetric ultrasound should be performed only when clinically indicated. Some indications may be:

  • To establish the presence of a living embryo/fetus
  • To estimate the age of the pregnancy
  • To diagnose congenital abnormalities
  • To evaluate the position of the fetus
  • To evaluate the position of the placenta
  • To determine if there are multiple pregnancies

You will be asked to lie on your back or side. You will also be asked to expose your lower abdominal area. The obstetric ultrasound examination takes about 30-45 minutes.

This is a painless procedure. There may be varying degrees of discomfort from pressure as the sonographer guides the transducer over your abdomen, especially if you are required to have a full bladder. At times the sonographer may have to press more firmly to get closer to the embryo or fetus to better visualize the structure. This discomfort is temporary. Also, you may dislike the feeling of the water-soluble gel applied to your abdomen. With transvaginal scanning, there may be minimal discomfort as the transducer is moved in the vagina.

  • Please note that we do not permit video recordings or photos from any recording devices (i.e. cell phone, camera, etc.) in the exam room. In addition, our ultrasound rooms are not large and we may need to limit the number of guests during your scan. There are many aspects of the pregnancy that the sonographer needs to assess during your ultrasound and therefore may limit discussion during the exam.

Carotid & Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrasound of the carotid arterial system provides a fast, noninvasive means of identifying blockages of blood flow in the neck arteries to the brain that might produce a stroke or mini-stroke. Ultrasound of the abdominal aorta is primarily used to evaluate for an aneurysm which is an abnormal enlargement of the aorta usually from atherosclerotic disease.

The patient is positioned on an examination table that can tilt and move. A clear gel is applied to the area that will be examined. The gel helps the transducer make a secure contact and eliminates air pockets between the transducer and the skin, since the sound waves cannot penetrate air. The sonographer or radiologist then presses the transducer firmly against the skin and sweeps along the area of interest, reviewing the images on the monitor and capturing "snapshots" as required.

Liver Ultrasound

Liver Ultrasound determines the size, shape, and function of the liver, and can be used to detect tumors.

Renal Ultrasound

Renal ultrasound determines the size, shape, and function of the kidneys, and can be useful in the detection of kidney stones, cysts, and tumors.

Vascular Ultrasound

Vascular ultrasounds are used to analyze the flow of blood through the arteries and veins.

Thyroid Ultrasound

Thyroid Ultrasound checks for underactive and overactive thyroid glands, nodules, and cysts.

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