Different Types of Ultrasounds (Sonograms)
There are many kinds of ultrasounds. We have broken them down into two categories with separate instructions for each.
Ultrasounds That Do Not Require Preparation
The following ultrasounds require no preparation on the part of the patient:
- US axilla – used to examine the lymph nodes and often used in conjunction with a breast ultrasound to find possible masses.
- US ABI (ankle-brachial index) – compares the blood pressure in the lower leg to the blood pressure in the arm to detect peripheral vascular disease.
- US arterial lower or upper extremities – used to diagnose reduced or blocked arterial blood flow in the arms and legs.
- US breast – usually used after a mammogram to view specific areas of concern. Primarily, it is used to determine the type of lesion occurring in the breast and whether biopsies are necessary.
- US carotid – used to visualize blood flow in the carotid artery to show possible narrowing or blockage.
- US chest – examines the organs of the chest including the heart, lungs, trachea, esophagus, thymus gland and lymph nodes. It can be used to look for lesions in those organs or to assess blood flow to them.
- US extremity non-vascular – is an ultrasound of the arm or leg tissue (as opposed to the vasculature as in the arterial or venous ultrasounds) used to visualize lesions or masses.
- US beck – used to assess lumps or other types of lesions.
- US renal – examines the kidneys for obstruction including stones, tumors, or cysts.
- US scrotum – checks for a range of problems including vascular problems in the testicles, undescended testicles, pain, inflammation and mass.
- US soft tissues – used to evaluate inflammation, infection, masses, necrotizing fasciitis and other lesions in the soft tissues of the body such as muscle.
- US thyroid – used to evaluate goiters or other problems with the Thyroid gland.
- US transvaginal – commonly done for pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding or abnormal findings during a gynecological manual exam. During this test the probe is placed inside the vagina and moved around to visualize the internal reproductive organs. It may be done during vaginal bleeding, provided the patient is comfortable with that.
- US venous lower or upper extremities – is used to search for blood clots such as a DVT (deep vein thrombosis). This test is often done as quickly as possible because of the danger that a blood clot presents. If you have a prescription for a US venous LE or UE that says DVT search or STAT on it, please call right away.
- US vein mapping – creates a map of the patient’s veins usually as a preparation for bypass graft surgery (taking a healthy vein from the leg and replacing with it an unhealthy one elsewhere).
Ultrasounds That Require Preparation
If you are scheduling one of these studies, please check the page on how to prepare for your ultrasound. It is very important that you follow the preparation instructions. If you come to your appointment without properly preparing the technologist will not be able to perform the test and your appointment will have to be rescheduled.
- US abdomen and US RUQ (right upper quadrant of the abdomen) – used to look at any of the organs in the abdominal cavity to look for masses, enlargements or to find the cause of abdominal pain. Your referring physician might be more specific about what organ to examine so your prescription could say: US gallbladder, US liver, US pancreas or US spleen.
- US abdominal aorta – most commonly used to look for abdominal aortic aneurism (AAA) a ballooning of the aortic wall due to increased pressure and thinning of a particular part of the wall. This ultrasound measures the size of the aneurism and assesses the danger of rupture.
- US bladder – usually used to see the amount of urine in the full bladder versus the amount after urination, search for stones or measure bladder wall thickness.
- US fetal/US OB – done at different stages of fetal development to see the fetus size and anatomy and to make sure the pregnancy is progressing well. Often done in conjunction with a transvaginal ultrasound.
- US pelvic – done to find the cause of pain, inflammation, abnormal bleeding and to help diagnose any problems with the reproductive system. Often done in conjunction with a transvaginal ultrasound.
- US prostate – to help diagnose cancer, inflammation, enlargement of the prostate gland and infertility.
- US renal artery – done to evaluate blood flow to the kidneys via the renal artery and look for narrowing or obstruction.