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Ultrasound Imaging

An ultrasound test uses reflected sound waves to produce an image of organs and other structures in the body. It does not use X-rays. For ultrasound testing, gel is applied to the skin to help transmit the sound waves. A small, handheld instrument called a transducer is passed back and forth over the area of the body being examined. The transducer sends out sound waves and converts them into an image that is displayed on a monitor.

Ultrasound is most useful for obstetrics—meaning pregnancy—and gynecology. It is also used for looking at organs and structures that are either uniform and solid, such as the liver, or fluid-filled, such as the gallbladder. Mineralized structures such as bones or air-filled organs such as the lungs do not show up well on a sonogram.