Ultrasound, also known as sonography, is an imaging technique that sends high-frequency sound waves through the body. These waves bounce off internal structures. Special equipment records these echoes to create pictures of inside the body. The technology works much like the sonar used in fish finders and ships.
Ultrasound can produce real-time images of organs in motion, without the use of radiation. It is a highly versatile tool used by physicians to diagnose and treat many medical conditions, and to investigate pain, swelling, infection and other problems with internal organs, such as the gastrointestinal (GI) organs, kidneys and reproductive organs.
A special type of ultrasound technique, called Doppler ultrasound, is used to study blood flow through vessels, including major arteries and veins in the abdomen, neck, legs and arms. Doppler ultrasounds help physicians evaluate blockages to blood flow, narrowing of vessels, and tumors or congenital malformations.
Ultrasound is also used to guide biopsies and other minimally invasive medical procedures.