Ultrasonography is a safe imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body. Ultrasonography doesn't use radiation (x-rays). Ultrasonography is also called ultrasound or sonogram.
Doctors may use ultrasound to find growths in your neck, breasts, groin, arms, or legs. Ultrasound can help tell the difference between a cyst (fluid-filled sac) and a solid tumor. An ultrasound can also show problems with organs in your belly, hip (pelvic) area, and chest, such as:
If doctors need to take a sample of a tumor or other growth, they can use ultrasound to help guide them.
If you're pregnant, doctors will often do ultrasound to see how your baby is growing and developing.
Doppler ultrasound shows your heart and blood moving, so doctors can see:
Color Doppler ultrasound shows which direction your blood is flowing:
You'll lie on a table
Doctors put a gel on your skin over the body part they want to see
They'll glide a small, hand-held device across your skin
The device sends sound waves into your body and records how the sound waves bounce off your internal organs
The sound waves are so high-pitched you can't hear them
A computer turns the sound waves into a still picture or a movie of the inside of your body
For some tests, doctors may insert the device into your body—for example, into your vagina to get pictures of your womb when you're pregnant, or into your rear end to get pictures of your prostate gland to look for cancer.