Term: Diagnostic Sonography

Description: An ultrasounds is used using high-frequency sound waves in order to see organs and other parts of the body. The sound waves used are sent to the place in the body where the image is wanted to be captured, and echoes are returned to produce the image. This type of procedure is called a sonogram. The procedure is described as noninvasive, no radiation is used in the procedure, and no hazards are conceivable. Sonographers practice a form of medical imaging that uses complex computerized high frequency sound wave and Doppler signal equipment to visualize subtle differences between healthy tissues and pathologic areas of the body, evaluate vascular flow information, and document pathologic and other conditions. Sonography is increasingly being used in the detection and treatment of heart disease, heart attack, and vascular disease that can lead to stroke. It is also used to guide needles for tissue biopsies taken for testing under a microscope. Although techniques vary based on the area being examined, sonographers usually spread a special gel on the skin to aid the transmission of sound waves.


The general purpose of the sonographic machine is used for imaging. Usually specialty applications may be served only by the use of a specialty transducer. Most ultrasound procedures are done using a transducer on the surface of the body, but improved diagnostic confidence is often if a transducer can be placed inside the body. A very small transducer can be mounted on small diameter catheters and placed into blood vessels to image the walls and disease of those vessels.

Types of Images

Many different types of images can be formed using ultrasound. The most well-known type is a B-mode image, which displays a two-dimensional cross-section of the tissue being imaged. Other types of image can display blood flow, motion of tissue over time, the location of blood, the presence of specific molecules, the stiffness of tissue, or the anatomy of a three-dimensional region. Ultrasound can also be used therapeutically to break up gallstones and kidney stones or to heat and destroy diseased or cancerous tissue.

Types of Sonograms

Abdomen- evaluation of all soft tissues, blood vessels and organs of the abdomen
Breast- frequently used to evaluate breast lumps and other abnormailites that are found with screening or mammography
Obstetrics/Gynecology- evaluation of developing fetus and female reproductive system
Cardiac- evaluation of the anatomy and function of the heart and related blood vessels
Vascular- evaluation of the blood flow through blood vessels
Neurosonology- evaluation of the brain and spinal cord in infants


  • Used to see parts of the body: abdomen, breasts, female reproductive system, prostate, heart, blood vessels, etc.
  • Sonographers operate the equipment that collects reflected echoes and forms an image that may be videotaped, transmitted, or photographed for interpretation and diagnosis by a physican
  • During a woman’s pregnancy, ultrasounds are used to monitor the fetus.
  • It can help diagnose diseases or abnormalities of the body.

How it works:
· A odorless, colorless gel is applied to the skin over the area where the parts of the body wish to be captured. The gel assists in conducting the sound waves used to capture the image of the body parts. The transducer is then used on the skin where the gel was placed, and as the transducer is moved around on top of the skin, the organs/body parts are seen on the monitor.

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Related Terminology: Diagnostic Sonography, Ultrasound, Sonogram, Ultrasound Scan, Ultrasonography, Abdominal Sonography, Transducer