Learn about ultrasounds and what to expect when having the procedure at INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Health Center.
What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound procedure is a non-invasive (the skin is not pierced) diagnostic procedure used to assess soft tissue structures such as muscles, blood vessels, and organs.
Ultrasound uses a transducer that sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency to high to be heard. When the transducer is placed at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the organs and structures within. The sound waves bounce off the organs like an echo and return to the transducer. The transducer picks up the reflected waves, which are then converted by a computer into an electronic picture of the organs or tissues under study.
A clear conducting gel is placed between the transducer and the skin to allow for smooth movement of the transducer over the skin and to eliminate air between the skin and the transducer for the best sound conduction.
Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function (in “real time,” like a live TV broadcast), and to assess blood flow through various vessels. Ultrasound procedures are often used to examine many parts of the body such as the abdomen, breasts, female pelvis, prostate, scrotum, thyroid and parathyroid glands, and the vascular system. During pregnancy, ultrasounds are performed to evaluate the development of the fetus.
Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy is an accurate way to evaluate suspicious masses within the breast that are visible on ultrasound, whether or not they can be felt on breast self-examination or clinical examination. The procedure prevents the need to remove tissue surgically, and also eliminates the radiation exposure that comes from using X-rays to locate a mass.
After placing an ultrasound probe over the site of the breast lump and using local anesthesia, the radiologist guides a biopsy needle directly into the mass. Tissue specimens are then taken using either an automatic spring-loaded device, or by manual vacuum assistance.
An ultrasound procedure may be done on an outpatient basis, or as part of inpatient care.