October Is Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month
While you may know that prenatal ultrasounds show a baby moving and growing inside the womb, you may not know that medical ultrasounds serve a wide array of other important purposes, too. Each October, Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month seeks to raise awareness about the purpose, safety and efficacy of medical ultrasounds – and the role today’s sonographers play in keeping patients healthy and safe.
Why health care providers use medical ultrasounds
Diagnostic ultrasound, or diagnostic medical sonography, involves using sound waves to capture images physicians may then use to diagnose an illness or condition and treat it accordingly. Sonographers capture images that are invisible to the naked eye and then use them to assess the severity of a patient’s condition and determine the most effective form of treatment.
Why medical ultrasounds are safe
Unlike X-rays, medical ultrasounds rely on low-power sound waves, rather than radiation, to capture images within the body. Health care providers have relied on noninvasive medical ultrasounds for decades, and there are no known risks associated with them when performed by trained and qualified medical professionals.
How health care providers use medical ultrasounds
Many physicians and medical professionals use sonography and ultrasounds to:
- Monitor prenatal growth and progress
- Examine lumps in breasts
- Identify genital or prostate problems
- Determine thyroid issues
- Assess blood flow
- Diagnose gallbladder disease
- Determine bone density and screen for osteoporosis
- Assess the condition of the heart via echocardiogram/Doppler ultrasound
- Guide needles for biopsies
- Assess the condition of internal organs after illness
- Identify joint inflammation
- Identify eye problems
…among other common uses.
What to do ahead of an ultrasound
Whether you have to take any special steps to prepare for an ultrasound depends on the type of ultrasound performed. You may need to avoid eating or drinking for a predetermined amount of time ahead of the procedure.
Most ultrasounds also require that you remove jewelry and change into a medical gown. Your doctor or sonographer will advise you of any other steps you may need to take in preparation for your ultrasound.
Whether used for diagnostic or monitoring purposes, medical ultrasounds give medical providers critical information about your health and overall condition. Safe, fast and noninvasive, these imaging tests are among the most effective and widely used diagnostic tools in modern medicine.