About AOA

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Basic Facts About Ultrasound

During pregnancy, doctors use ultrasound tests to examine the fetus. An ultrasound exam is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to scan a woman's abdomen and pelvic cavity, creating a picture of the baby and placenta. Unlike x-rays, ultrasound does not involve exposure to radiation.

Basic Facts About Ultrasound

What you can expect

During an ultrasound exam, you lie on an examination table and a small amount of gel is applied to your skin. The gel helps eliminate the formation of air pockets between the ultrasound and your body.

During the exam, a technician trained in ultrasound imaging (sonographer) presses a small hand-held device (transducer), about the size of a bar of soap, against your skin over the area of your body being examined, moving from one area to another as necessary.

Based on the same principles as sonar, a technology used to detect underwater objects, the transducer generates and receives high-frequency sound waves that can't be heard by the human ear.

As the sonographer places the transducer on your skin, crystals inside the transducer emit pulses of sound waves that travel into your body. Your tissues, bones and body fluids reflect the sound waves and bounce them back to the transducer. The transducer then sends this information to a computer, which composes detailed images based on the patterns created by the sound waves.

When your exam is complete, the sonographer will generally view the ultrasound images on film or on a computer monitor. The radiologist analyzes the images and sends a report of the findings to your AOA doctor.

Risks

Diagnostic ultrasound is a safe procedure that uses low-power sound waves. There are no direct risks from a diagnostic ultrasound exam.