It is one of the most important advantages of ultrasound. Well, x-rays will provide you with a copy of your internal body parts. But, when it comes to the soft tissues, maybe the x-ray will not provide you with accurate details of your soft tissues. So, in that case, you can consider ultrasound to be the best option. It will give you a clear image of the soft tissues. And that will help the doctors to detect whether there is any problem or not.
Ultrasound scans are the only non-invasive way to determine whether a suspicious lump is benign, a fluid-filled cyst, or whether it is a solid cancerous mass. However, some scans are done with a special probe that is inserted into the person’s vagina (for some obstetric or pelvic examinations), rectum (for some prostate examinations) or oesophagus (for some heart examinations).
Receiving ultrasound scans during pregnancy is a very practical way for future parents to observe the changes in their baby as they take place. They also provide them with practical aspects and information that can prepare them for the birth, including the estimated delivery dates and the sex of the child. Often, the images produced within an ultrasound scan are also saved, shared, and cherished for their intimate value by the families – providing a personal value benefit to the procedure.
Ultrasounds are generally completely painless and do not require needles or any cuts. The device used for an ultrasound, called a transducer, simply rubs against the patient’s skin over the area being examined. High-frequency sound waves are transmitted from the probe through the gel into the body – where the transducer collects the sounds that bounce back. A computer then uses those sound waves to create an image – displaying this on a screen.
Ultrasounds are usually quick, with most sessions lasting only for a few minutes. Even the most intensive ultrasound scans only take up to an hour at most. Hence, ultrasound diagnostics are convenient for people who might be on a busy schedule.
Ultrasound is also relatively inexpensive as compared to other imaging services. The only substance required for ultrasound imaging is the water-based gel used to help the signals from the probe travel through the skin and organs. The low costs translate to a lower medical bill, which is another reason that doctors first recommend ultrasound testing if suitable.
Usually, the ultrasound technician only needs to apply the probe to the areas that need visualization, such as the belly of a pregnant woman or the neck of someone having their thyroid gland checked. Other times, the radiologist will have to place the probe inside the body cavities to get images of specific organs, but this still doesn’t require breaking the skin or causing impact to the body. For example, a transvaginal ultrasound is necessary to get clear pictures of the uterus and ovaries.
Sometimes ultrasound is used for guidance during real-time operations, such as positioning a probe inside the body. Even in these scenarios, the ultrasound procedure itself does not involve breaking the skin.
Ultrasound imaging relies solely on high-frequency sound waves to form images. Unlike other imaging tests, ultrasounds do not utilize radiation – so it’s impossible to get radiation-related health problems from an ultrasound scan.
Also, many imaging methods require the use of substances called contrast agents. These compounds are necessary to highlight certain bodily issues during diagnostic imaging. Patients usually take contrast agents as oral medications or through injections, so these substances circulate throughout the entire body. Some people are allergic to contrast agents, and ultrasound can work without the use of these contrast dyes – thereby making the scanning process safer for them.
Even after decades of use, there are no documented health risks or side effects that come from exposure to the high-frequency sound waves that come from ultrasound. This high safety factor is the reason that many healthcare providers recommend ultrasound testing as a first-line imaging technique.
Ultrasound technology is excellent at visualizing soft tissues, such as organs and muscles. As the sound waves encounter tissues of different densities, an echo reflects and is measured by the ultrasound technology.
The characteristics of the echo, such as its intensity and timing, are based on the features of the soft tissue. Since tumors and other abnormalities usually have a different density from the surrounding tissue, they tend to show up clearly on ultrasound scans.
Some imaging methods, such as X-rays, are less reliable for examining soft tissue. These tests work best for hard tissues such as bone.