Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of a small transducer (probe) and ultrasound gel to expose the body to high -frequency sound waves. Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound examinations do not use Ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, As well as blood flowing through blood vessels.
Conventional ultrasound displays the images in thin, flat sections of the body. Advancements in ultrasound technology include three-dimensional (3-D) ultrasound that formats the sound wave data into 3-D images. Four-dimensional (4-D) ultrasound is 3-D ultrasound in motion.
Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood flow through a blood vessel, including the body's major arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs and neck.
Why should I do it ?
An ultrasound of the thyroid is typically used:
- To determine if a lump in the neck is arising from the thyroid or an adjacent structure
- To analyze the appearance of thyroid nodules and determine if they are the more common benign nodule or if the nodule has features that require a biopsy. If biopsy is required, ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration can help improve accuracy of the biopsy.
- To look for additional nodules in patients with one or more nodules felt on physical exam
- To see if a thyroid nodule has substantially grown over time
- Because ultrasound provides real-time images, doctors may use it to guide procedures, including needle biopsies. Biopsies use needles to extract tissue samples for lab testing.
- Ultrasound also may be used to guide the insertion of a catheter or other drainage device. This helps assure safe and accurate placement.
Any preparations needed?
- You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
- You may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined.
- In case of children, ultrasound examinations are very sensitive to motion, and an active or crying child will slow the examination process. To ensure a smooth experience, it would be beneficial to explain the procedure to the child prior to the exam.