October Is Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month
In modern medicine, health care providers rely on diagnostic tools to understand, identify and address various health issues. Medical ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging technique that reveals important information about your health and wellness. Each year in October, the nation recognizes Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month to help spread the word about when, how and why you and other patients may need this type of diagnostic test.
How medical ultrasounds work
Medical ultrasound is an imaging technique that employs high-frequency waves to create images of the inside of your body. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, medical ultrasound is radiation-free and relies on sound waves, which are harmless and painless. Cardiac and vascular ultrasounds examine the heart and blood vessels.
Cardiac ultrasounds generate detailed images of your heart’s chambers, valves and blood flow, allowing health care providers to assess cardiac function and detect certain abnormalities. Vascular ultrasounds focus on blood vessels, helping visualize blood flow, detect blockages and identify certain conditions. These ultrasounds are highly effective tools for diagnosing and monitoring cardiovascular health.
Why health care providers use ultrasound
Ultrasound is safer than most diagnostic methods because it does not require care providers to insert instruments into the body. Thus, it is not only safer, but more comfortable for patients, too. Medical ultrasound also generates real-time images, giving care providers and patients vital information about their health without unnecessary delay. Many modern health care providers rely on medical ultrasounds to:
- Review and assess the functionality of the heart and other internal organs
- Identify eye or thyroid problems
- Identify genital or prostate problems
- Examine blood flow
- Assess bone density
- Examine breast lumps
- Detect joint inflammation
- Identify gallbladder disease
- Monitor prenatal growth
- Guide needles used in biopsies
While many care providers rely on medical ultrasound for these purposes, this is not an exhaustive summary of all the reasons medical teams may use them.
What ultrasounds reveal about patients
Cardiac ultrasounds, or echocardiograms, provide detailed information about the structure and function of your heart. They reveal the size and thickness of your heart’s chambers, the condition of your heart valves and the efficiency of your blood flow and may be able to identify valve disorders, congenital heart defects and heart muscle abnormalities.
Vascular ultrasounds, meanwhile, focus on your body’s blood vessels. These diagnostic tools may be able to detect blockages, aneurysms and other vascular abnormalities, generating important information about the strength and condition of your circulatory system. Both cardiac and vascular ultrasounds play a key role in diagnosing and monitoring cardiovascular conditions, enabling healthcare providers to tailor treatment plans according to your specific needs.
How to prepare for an ultrasound
Ahead of your ultrasound appointment, wear loose, comfortable clothing and remove jewelry. Try, too, to remain calm and stay still during the procedure so your ultrasound tech can get clear images. If you have questions about the process, ask the ultrasound technician so he or she can alleviate your concerns.
Medical ultrasound plays an important role in modern health care, giving providers a safe, non-invasive way to visualize certain internal structures and identify certain health issues. Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month serves as an important reminder about the purpose of these diagnostic tools while educating patients about when, how and why they may need them.