Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. The ultrasound machine consists of a sophisticated computer connected by a cord to a type of microphone device. This device, called a transducer, is actually a combination sound transmitter and microphone.

The transducer sends out high-pitched sounds into your body. The sounds are above the hearing range for humans. It then listens for the echoes that come back from your tissues. Different tissues of the body send back different echoes. Also, certain diseased or injured tissues send back different echoes than healthy tissues. The computer takes the information from the echoes and turns it into a set of images. The images are then interpreted by a radiologist.

Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood as it flows through a blood vessel, including the body’s major arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs and neck.

Ultrasound is used to look at soft tissue structures in the abdomen. It can evaluate for infection, inflammation and tumors. It is especially good at detecting gallstones. Ultrasound is also good at evaluating pelvic structures in women. It is one of the best ways to look for cysts and tumors. Because it uses no x-rays, it is also an excellent way of evaluating pregnancies.