What Is Ultrasound Used For?
If babies were first to cross your mind, you’re not wrong. Pregnancy ultrasounds are a common use of the technology to monitor the growth of an infant in the womb. But ultrasounds help a radiologist detect more than just pregnancies and fetal development. Here are other ways ultrasounds are used.
Ultrasound can be used to complement other breast cancer screenings, such as a mammogram or breast MRI. While an annual mammogram is the best way to discover breast cancer early, a breast ultrasound can give your healthcare provider more information about a mass or cyst. Breast ultrasounds are especially useful for women who:
- Are pregnant and cannot be exposed to radiation.
- Have dense breasts, which makes it difficult to distinguish between a tumor and dense breast tissue.
Heart and Blood Vessels
A Doppler ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound that uses color-coded maps to visualize blood flow in the heart or blood vessels. It measures the speed and direction of blood flow. Your healthcare provider may order a Doppler ultrasound to:
- Check your heart’s function alongside an electrocardiogram.
- Check for normal blood flow post-surgery.
- Detect plaque build-up in the carotid arteries that blocks blood flow to the brain.
- Look for blood vessel damage or heart defects.
- Watch for narrowing of blood vessels.
Abdominal and Pelvic Structures
A provider may order an ultrasound for women with ongoing pelvic pain or menstrual issues. Ultrasounds give a closer look at the uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes. For both men and women, a pelvic ultrasound can help identify kidney stones, bladder tumors or urinary disorders. A transvaginal ultrasound, a test where a diagnostic ultrasound wand is placed inside the vagina, is also used to see deeper inside the uterus. Transvaginal ultrasounds are useful to detect uterine anomalies, endometrial polyps, fibroids or cancer.
An ultrasound of the neck provides clear images of the thyroid gland and other surrounding neck structures. It’s common for adults to have lumps on the thyroid called palpable nodules. While some nodules are noncancerous, some people can develop nodules that contain thyroid cancer. These may be difficult to feel on the surface but can be easily seen with ultrasound. An ultrasound for the thyroid is useful to determine whether a nodule is benign or requires biopsy.
How Much Does an Ultrasound Cost?
Cost is the last thing that should be on your mind when you need an ultrasound. American Health Imaging (AHI) offers fee transparency so you know up front how much your imaging exam will cost. This is helpful for patients with high-deductible insurance plans. At AHI, many medical screenings are offered at a potential lower cost than most hospitals. We make it easy for you to have access to affordable testing.
Learn more about our ultrasound services at AHI.