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  • Ultrasound Facts and Types of Exams

  • How it works

    Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves (like a radar) to create images of the inside of the body. It is completely safe for pregnant women and for children. Pictures are obtained by placing an ultrasound transducer (a microphone) against the body. A small amount of gel is placed on the skin. The exam is painless.

    Types of exams

    • Abdominal Ultrasound assesses the gallbladder, liver, spleen, pancreas and kidneys.
    • Pelvic Ultrasound can evaluate a woman's uterus and ovaries. Frequently, an endovaginal study is performed in which a special transducer with a sterile cover is inserted into the vagina by the patient. This provides very high resolution images of the uterus and ovaries. In men, pelvic ultrasound can evaluate the prostate. This requires a special endorectal transducer that is inserted into the rectum.
    • Thyroid Ultrasound assesses the size of the thyroid gland and looks for thyroid nodules. No special preparation is needed for this exam.
    • Fetal Ultrasound is most commonly used to evaluate the size and age of a fetus as well as assess its growth during pregnancy.
    • Vascular Ultrasound can be used to assess the arteries and veins. Doppler and color flow ultrasound are used in addition to standard ultrasound imaging. Ultrasound can be used to evaluate for blood clots, most commonly in the leg veins, and for narrowing of the arteries, most commonly the carotid arteries in the neck. It is also used to evaluate blood vessels in the abdomen. No special preparation is needed for this exam.

    For more information about ultrasound at Rhode Island Hospital, call 401-444-5309 or e-mail JGrusmark@Lifespan.org.