When most people hear the word ultrasound, they immediately think of pictures taken of unborn babies still in their mother’s womb. While this is a very popular and extremely valuable use of ultrasound, it is hardly the only use. Ultrasound technology is utilized in a wide variety of medical purposes.
Ultrasound for the Anatomy of the Brain
Ultrasound used for monitoring the brain, called a cranial ultrasound, is a great tool for assisting doctors with the diagnosis of a variety or brain related issues in babies. Cranial ultrasound is not effective once the skull bones have fused, so its primary purpose is in working with babies.
However, during neurosurgery, when the skull has already been opened, cranial ultrasounds can be performed on adults, providing valuable assistance to surgeons looking for a brain mass.
Ultrasound for the Eyes
Ultrasound can be a very handy tool for doctors and ophthalmologists in taking an in-depth look at the structure of the eye. An ultrasound on the eye is performed by first numbing the eye, usually with anesthetic drops, then placing the ultrasound wand against the front surface of the eye.
The sound waves of the ultrasound create a perfect picture of the full structure of the eye. This test can show a variety of issues and complications, such as vitreous hemorrhage (bleeding into the eyeball between the retina and the lens), the presence of cancer cells in the retina, separation of the retina from the back of the eye and swelling and the presence of foreign bodies that would otherwise be undetectable.
Ultrasound of the Abdomen
Abdominal ultrasounds are useful in detecting a variety of issues in the organs of the abdominal region. These types of ultrasounds are used for diagnosing abnormalities in organs such as the kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, spleen and the abdominal aorta and various blood vessels of the abdomen.
Abdominal ultrasounds give doctors a detailed look at the condition of organs that would otherwise be unattainable without actually cutting into a patient. One of the few limitations of abdominal ultrasounds is their ineffectiveness in giving a clear picture of the bowels or organs obscured by the bowels. Ultrasound images are negatively affected by gases or air, so getting a clear picture of the bowels is unlikely.
Ultrasounds performed on the vascular system provide doctors with a good look at the effectiveness of the blood flow through areas of the body. Restricted flow of blood to organs of the body can result in a number of serious issues. Using vascular ultrasound, doctors can often pinpoint areas that are being supplied with a limited amount of blood flow.
Detecting clots and blockages in the bloodstream is only one of the advantages of vascular ultrasound. The process can be utilized to determine a patient’s candidacy for certain procedures, such as angioplasty. Vascular ultrasound is also useful in detecting the presence and severity of varicose veins.
In short, vascular ultrasounds are a great tool in locating issues of the blood stream that may otherwise go undetected and lead to serious complications.
Ultrasounds of the prostate is called a transrectal ultrasound, is a process used to locate potential issues or disorders within the prostate. A transrectal ultrasound can determine whether a patient’s prostate is enlarged, which then allows for the proper steps to be taken to deal with the issue.
Transrectal ultrasound also will detect any abnormal growths within the prostate. Many times, this test is run as a result of a nodule felt by a doctor during a normal prostate screening. Transrectal ultrasounds are also valuable in helping to determine possible causes of infertility in men.