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UT Southwestern Medical Center’s ultrasound services allow physicians and specialists to make accurate diagnoses and prescribe targeted treatments and therapies for a wide range of conditions, from the simple to the complex.

Our radiology team performs more than 800,000 inpatient and outpatient exams every year. We specialize in advanced technologies and the latest clinical innovations in today’s changing field of medical imaging

Fast, Safe, and Reliable Imaging

Ultrasound, or sonography, is a scan that uses high-frequency sound waves to show the inside of the body. The ultrasound reveals movement and live function in the body’s organs in real time. The test is safe and easy and does not use X-rays or radiation.

Because the body is more than 90 percent water, sound waves can travel through it just as sonar is used in the ocean. As sound waves from the ultrasound machine go through the body, they create an echo when they hit various tissues. The returning echoes are recorded by a computer that then displays them on a screen to an ultrasound technologist.

UT Southwestern offers experience and expertise in all types of ultrasound, including technologies and techniques that might not be available at other medical facilities.

Conditions We Diagnose with Ultrasound

We can use the results of an ultrasound to detect and diagnose a wide range of medical conditions.

Ultrasound is most effective in diagnosing conditions by:

  • Examining the heart
  • Evaluating vascular disease
  • Revealing information about the size and shape of tumors and cysts
  • Evaluating the gallbladder and related organs
  • Evaluating the uterus and ovaries
  • Examining the fetus during pregnancy

Ultrasound: What to Expect

An ultrasound is safe and painless. Patients might be asked to fast for several hours before the exam or drink several glasses of water to create fullness in the bladder. We will give patients any specific instructions they need.

Patients should avoid carbonated beverages before the exam, because bubbles in the body can interfere with the ultrasound images. An ultrasound technologist can answer any questions a patient might have about a health condition that could affect the exam.

An ultrasound exam usually takes 30 minutes. The technologist will ask the patient to lie or sit on an examination table. The technologist can then lower the lights in the room to make the computer display easier to see. A gel will be applied to the patient’s skin over the area to be scanned. This gel allows the ultrasound transducer, which transmits images to the computer, to slide easily over the skin.

The patient might feel some discomfort if he or she has a full bladder and the technologist is pressing the transducer wand over the abdomen.

For pelvic examinations, such as those for the prostate gland, uterus, or ovaries, the technologist will explain the use of an ultrasound probe. This probe is placed in the rectum or vagina to better capture images of internal structures. Patients can ask for a third person, or chaperone, to be present at these types of intimate exams, if they wish.

As the transducer transmits live images of the patient’s body to the computer, the technologist will capture pictures for permanent reference.

A radiologist will review the images and send a report to the doctor, who will notify the patient of any findings. The patient can also request to receive the images on CD.

Related Conditions and Treatments

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