What Is an Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a medical exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to create real-time images of your internal organs. The sound waves are emitted from a specialized tool called a transducer that is placed against your skin. As the sound waves bounce off your internal structures, they are recorded by the transducer and transmitted to a computer, where they are compiled into a moving image.

When Is Ultrasound Used?

Ultrasounds are commonly used to track the progression of a woman's pregnancy and check the health and sex of her baby. Most obstetricians perform routine ultrasounds to look for abnormalities in either the fetus or the uterus during early pregnancy. However, ultrasound has many applications beyond that. Diagnostic ultrasound is used to evaluate tumors, assess abdominal organs such as the liver, kidneys, spleen, gallbladder, bile ducts, aorta and pancreas, as well as breasts, thyroid, scrotum, arteries, and other soft tissues throughout the body. Because they allow physicians to monitor organs in real-time, they are often used to guide tumor biopsies as well.

What Is an Ultrasound Guided Biopsy?

Ultrasound guided biopsy is an outpatient procedure that collects a tissue sample from a tumor that has been discovered in a cancer screening. The sample is extracted using a needle inserted beneath the skin. Once this has been done, the physician uses the ultrasound to monitor its position and ensure it penetrates the tumor. After the procedure, a marker is placed over the insertion site, in case the physician needs to perform a follow-up exam. Ultrasound biopsies are performed with local anesthetic, to numb the pain. The extracted tissue is sent to a pathologist working with the ultrasound center, who analyzes it to determine whether the tumor is malignant or benign.

What Are the Benefits and Risks?

Ultrasound allows physicians to perform quick and accurate diagnoses, and is one of the safest diagnostic procedures used to evaluate health. It's completely painless and has no side effects.

How to Schedule an Ultrasound Exam

If you would like to schedule an ultrasound exam at one of our ultrasound clinics in Sacramento or Elk Grove, visit our appointments page.