Ultrasounds are a very common and popular form of medical imaging. They are painless, offer no risk of radiation and can provide details of the interior of the body without making a single incision. However, there are various kinds of ultrasounds that can be administered for different parts of the body and different kinds of conditions. Knowing the kind of ultrasound one needs is crucial to understanding health conditions.
Most people are aware of ultrasounds in relation to pregnancy. Ultrasounds use sonar power or sound waves in order to create images of the organs and fetuses without having to make incisions or use contrast material. Sound waves reverberate off the organs and bones and the ultrasound machine interprets the change in sound waves and uses computer technology to make an image. Because of the comfort on the part of the patient in concert with the information gleaned for doctors, ultrasounds are now able to do so much more. Ultrasounds can be performed in 3D, allowing parents to see unborn children’s features and movement in higher, clearer quality than ever before.
Ultrasounds are used for more than just pregnancy. They can determine problems like internal bleeding, thyroid complications, and vascular, reproductive and sexual issues. One of the most interesting forms of ultrasound is a Doppler ultrasound. Most people remember the word “Doppler” from high school science when discussing why it is that you can hear an ambulance coming from far away but once it is right in front of you, the sound dissipates. That kind of sound science can even be applied in a medical sense (but without the loud sirens).
Doppler ultrasound can map the movement of blood through veins in the body. This is extremely useful if there is a possible blockage in the vein. Blood blockages are what causes things like strokes, heart attacks, amputations, and other kinds of problems. The most common places to perform a Doppler ultrasound are at the neck and abdominal arteries leading to and from the brain and heart, mainly the aortic and carotid arteries.
During a carotid Doppler ultrasound, the transducer (ultrasound wand) is held against the neck with ultrasound gel to prevent air pockets from forming as sound cannot penetrate the air. Patients report hearing pulse-like sounds when the procedure is happening. A carotid Doppler ultrasound differs from other forms of ultrasound because it measures the direction and speed of blood cells as they move throughout the vessels. The movement causes a change in the pitch of reverberating sound waves. This way doctors can tell if there is a blockage or damage to the vessel that could be detrimental to the healthy blood flow needed in the body.
If you are concerned about cardiovascular health or high blood pressure, your doctor might consider having one of these ultrasounds performed. If you are aware that you are high risk for heart attack or stroke, having crucial medical information gained from ultrasounds could save your life.
You can also schedule an ultrasound appointment with our Request an Appointment page. If you have more questions or concerns, feel free to contact Doctors Imaging office at 504-833-8111 Monday through Friday to speak with a representative.