What is ultrasound?

An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves (inaudible to humans) to create images of the inside of the body. Ultrasound is sent into the body and bounces back (or echoes) off the different tissues it passes through. This echo gives the ultrasound image its features, with varying shades of grey representing different densities. Ultrasound is safer than an X-Ray because it uses sound waves, instead of radiation. For this reason, it is commonly used to evaluate fetal development during pregnancy.

Ultrasound can also detect problems in the liver, heart, kidney, or abdomen. Because it generate a real time, moving image, it is particularly useful in the diagnosis of circulatory problems, i.e. blood flow through your arteries and veins. This is known as a Doppler ultrasound.

The person who performs an ultrasound scan is called a sonographer. Ultrasound images are usually interpreted by radiologists, cardiologists, or other specialists who then discuss the findings with the patient, or the patient's GP.