A Quick Overview of Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Healthcare professionals use diagnostic medical sonography to diagnose, monitor, and treat diseases in patients’ soft tissues and organs. Find out more about this important type of medical imaging with our quick overview of diagnostic medical sonography.

How Sonography Works

Diagnostic medical sonographers, also called ultrasound technicians, perform sonography exams. An ultrasound tech will use an ultrasound probe, called a transducer, that produces sound waves. These sound waves have frequencies above human hearing capabilities.

The probe sends the sound waves into the body. When the sound waves hit boundaries in the body, such as tissue, organs, and fluids, the waves return to the transducer as an echo. The transducer then records the echoes.

By measuring changes in the echoed sound waves’ direction, the ultrasound equipment produces an image of the internal body structures. These images appear in real time on the monitor.

Benefits of Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Ultrasound is safe, non-invasive, and provides much-needed information that helps healthcare providers understand their patients’ health. Doctors can use ultrasound to examine internal organs such as the liver, scrotum, spleen, bladder, uterus, and more.

In general, an ultrasound procedure is painless. Since sonography uses sound waves rather than radiation, sonography is a safer diagnostic imaging procedure than X-rays and CT scans.

What To Expect During a Sonography Exam

As this quick overview of diagnostic medical sonography shows, ultrasound is an effective imaging method that uses a surprisingly simple technique. Depending on your ultrasound procedure, your doctor might provide special instructions to help you prepare for the exam. You may need to avoid eating or drinking for a specific number of hours before the ultrasound.

For most ultrasound exams, the technician will place the transducer outside of your body. Wear comfortable clothes that you can move away from the area of your body where the technician will place the probe.

For some exams, the technician will place the probe into one of the body’s openings to get a better image. Such exams include transvaginal ultrasounds and transrectal ultrasounds.

Ultrasound exams typically take between 30 minutes and an hour to complete. After the exam, your doctor will review the images and talk to you about the findings.

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