An ultrasound is a non-invasive investigation involving the use of ultrasounds. The echoes returned by organs are used to visualise what cannot be seen by the eye or even by X rays. Ultrasound investigations are performed by doctors using an ultrasound instrument.
The procedure for ultrasound
Several regions of the body can be investigated using this non-invasive investigation. In particular these are the thoracic cavity, abdomen and urogenital systems. It is a particularly good investigative technique for various organs such as the kidney, liver or heart. However, its most widely known use by the general public and undoubtedly its most common use is to monitor pregnancy.
The investigation procedure
After applying a gel that facilitates the spread of the waves, a probe is placed on the skin to act as a source and receiver for the ultrasound beam. This is connected to an amplifier and a screen and transmits the information which is then converted into images.
Possible risks of ultrasound
Diagnostic ultrasounds including foetal ultrasound are not contraindicated when medical benefit may be expected. No studies have yet demonstrated that these ultrasounds can harm the foetus. However, medical "artistic" ultrasound are not recommended. They provide no information which diagnostic ultrasound would not offer and do not provide any benefit either for the child or the mother.
- Gustave Roussy Oncology Institute;
- French Health Products Safety Agency (Afssaps), accessed in November 2010.
Pregnancy may be monitored using sequential ultrasounds. © Monkey Business, Fotolia