What Is an Ultrasound?
Ultrasounds are a safe imaging technique we use to view the movement and structure of internal organs or blood vessels in real time. Also called sonograms, ultrasound images are captured using high-frequency sound waves, not radiation. Because it doesn’t expose the body to radiation, this safe imaging method is commonly used to view the fetus during pregnancy.
Ultrasound technologists use a hand-held device called a transducer to send sound waves through the body. The ultrasound travels through fluids and soft tissue, but if it hits denser material, it bounces back or echoes. It’s these echoes that create the images. Dense objects cause more ultrasound to bounce back and appear darker in the image produced. Various shades of gray in the images represent different densities.
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What Is a Sonogram?
You may hear the terms “sonogram” and “ultrasound” used interchangeably. In fact, your imaging exam may be referred to as an ultrasound or a sonogram. However, these terms have different meanings.
An ultrasound either refers to the tool used to perform the procedure or the imaging test itself. A sonogram is the picture generated by the ultrasound. The ultrasound is the procedure while the sonogram is the result, and one couldn’t exist without the other. For example, when pregnant women have an ultrasound, the image they see on the monitor and the black and white photo they take home is a sonogram.
The ultrasound image, or sonogram, is produced by sound waves that bounce off denser bodily material but pass through soft tissue and fluids. Once the sound waves are emitted and bounce back, they travel through the transducer and enter the ultrasound computer. The computer then processes the sound waves, turning them into an image that you, your technologist and your doctor can view on the monitor.
Another term used in reference to ultrasound exams is “sonography.” This is the medical practice of using an ultrasound machine for diagnostic purposes.
Whether your procedure is referred to as a sonogram or an ultrasound, this medical exam is versatile, noninvasive, radiation-free, affordable and painless. If you’re wondering where to get a sonogram near you, the team at Health Images in the Boulder and Denver area would be happy to assist you.