Medical technology and techniques change constantly, and each version improves on the last. In this environment, it’s easy for people to develop misunderstandings about medical equipment and procedures.
Let’s clear the air around one of the most popular imaging diagnostic tools: the ultrasound. Read about these four rumors about ultrasounds that are simply not true.
Rumor 1: Ultrasounds Use Radiation
While some other medical imaging procedures use radiation to visualize a body’s internal structures, ultrasounds use sound waves. The probe emits sound waves at high frequencies above human hearing capacity. When the sound wave hits an object, it bounces back as an echo.
The ultrasound machine measures these echoes to determine the object’s size, shape, and consistency. The computer then displays the data as an image on a monitor.
Rumor 2: Ultrasounds Are Unsafe
Healthcare providers use ultrasounds safely. Doctors have been using this method safely since the first instance in 1956. Providers use the generated images to help diagnose and treat various diseases and conditions, making this a beneficial technique. So, the rumor about ultrasounds being unsafe is simply not true.
Many people know that doctors use ultrasounds to monitor a woman’s uterus, ovaries, and developing baby during pregnancy. But doctors can also use the images to monitor blood flow, guide a needle for tumor treatment, and check thyroid glands, among many other things.
Rumor 3: Ultrasounds Predict a Baby’s Sex Correctly 100% of the Time
Many expectant mothers use ultrasounds to help them predict the sex of their baby. But while an ultrasound can help people see a developing baby in the womb, this method does not correctly predict the sex of a baby 100% of the time.
The further along a pregnancy is, the more accurately an ultrasound can determine the sex of the infant. As early as 11 weeks, ultrasound can evaluate sex with a little over 70% accuracy. Most ultrasound technicians can generally determine the sex of the baby at about 20 weeks. But since humans interpret the image, there’s always a chance for error. For example, a loop in the umbilical cord might produce a mistaken interpretation.
Rumor 4: Ultrasound Results Are Available Immediately
While the ultrasound machine immediately converts sound wave echoes into an image, it might take a while for you to receive your results. That’s because an imaging technician generally performs the ultrasound, but results are reviewed by a medical professional, typically a radiologist. After reviewing the images, the radiologist sends a written report to your provider, and your provider discusses the findings with the patient.
You might receive immediate feedback from a qualified specialist at the time of your ultrasound. But you can expect to review the full, official results within days of testing.
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