Ultrasound | Definition, Indications, Side Effects, Price

Ultrasound | Definition, Indications, Side Effects, Price

What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a painless and effective exam that uses an ultrasound machine (high frequency sound waves) to create real-time diagnostic images of the fetus and your body’s internal organs (breasts, breasts, heart, liver, kidneys). It also measures the flow of blood in the main veins and arteries.

Preparing for the ultrasound depends on the structure and the organs to be examined.

Ultrasound allows you to visualize the organs located in the abdomen, small pelvis, neck (thyroid, lymph nodes, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, genitals) but also vessels (arteries and veins), ligaments and heart. It aims to detect an infection, a malformation or a tumor.

Principle, definition:

Ultrasound is an imaging technique that uses high frequency ultrasonic waves, produced and received by the device (probe) which is moved over the skin by sliding by means of a gel.
The ultrasound received is converted into images by a computer.
The ultrasound only analyzes the area explored and not the whole body.
A completely harmless technique, it is particularly interesting in children and pregnant women and can be repeated if necessary without danger.

Doppler ultrasound

Arterial Doppler ultrasound consists of observing certain arteries and their blood flow on moving images. This act is performed to diagnose a possible arterial disease, to follow its evolution or to treat it. Its principle is very simple: a probe is placed on the body which emits ultrasound. The image is transcribed according to the penetration and the reverberation of ultrasound in the organism studied.

The Doppler effect makes it possible to study the blood circulation, in the veins or the arteries by quantifying the circulatory speed. It makes it possible to measure the speed of circulation in the vessels and to precisely measure the diameter of the vessels. The length of the exam depends on the number of regions to be explored. Allow approximately 20 minutes for the exam.

The Doppler effect makes it possible to study the blood circulation, in the veins or the arteries by quantifying the circulatory speed. It makes it possible to measure the speed of circulation in the vessels and to precisely measure the diameter of the vessels. The length of the exam depends on the number of regions to be explored. Allow approximately 20 minutes for the exam.


In our clinics and offices, we perform all kinds of ultrasound as well as punctures and biopsies performed under ultrasound control (liver, breast, thyroid, etc.)


– Abdominal and pelvic (exploration of the entire abdomen for pain for example)
– Hepatic, bile ducts and pancreas.
– Renal and urinary tract (bladder +/- prostate)
– Pelvic (uterus and ovaries) by abdominal +/- endovaginal approach
– Obstetric (+/- 3D)
– Testicular.
– Breast (alone or with a mammogram)
– From the wall and superficial tissues
– Thyroid, salivary glands
– Osteoarticular (shoulder, knee, wrist and hand, ankle…)
– Arterial or venous echo-doppler

They use high resolution probes, of different shapes and frequencies, adapted according to the parts of the body examined, internal or 3D probes.

Side effects:

Ultrasound does not cause any side effects. This exam should not cause pain, but sometimes the pressure the transducer exerts on the body will cause discomfort if it is placed over the area that is already sore.


It varies depending on the area of ​​the body being examined.

For abdominal ultrasounds (Doppler of the abdominal aorta or renal arteries) a 5 hour fast is required, allowing medication to be taken with a little water, especially in diabetic or cardiac patients.

For pelvic or urinary tract ultrasounds, the bladder must be full, we ask to empty the bladder 1 hour before the examination then to drink 3/4 of a liter quickly and not to urinate.

For early pregnancy ultrasounds (dating and first trimester) we ask not to urinate 1 hour before the examination.

For other ultrasounds: pregnancy of the 2nd and 3rd trimester, superficial, cervical and Doppler of the vessels of the neck, osteoarticular, there is no necessary preparation.

Read also: PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography) | Definition, Indications, Side Effects, Price

Ultrasound procedure:

The examination is carried out by the radiologist who communicates with you directly and gives you his conclusions orally.

In a room dedicated to ultrasound, most often lying on your back (sometimes on your stomach or on your side). In a seated position for ultrasounds of the upper limb.

The doctor places a gel on the skin that allows the device to slide over the skin with good contact.

For full bladder ultrasounds, you will often be asked to empty the bladder before the second part of the examination (vaginally for the uterus or rectally for the prostate), or to assess its good evacuation.

Exam duration:

A minimum duration of 30 minutes is necessary, this time includes:

Administrative formalities,

Installation time

Exam time

The production of the report

The rendering of the file

This time is longer for some ultrasounds

(obstetrics, Doppler ultrasound, punctures and biopsies under ultrasound)


The simple ultrasound exam is around US$ 250 and up, depending on the structure and the organs to be examined.


  • Performed by a professional, ultrasound for medical purposes is almost safe: it is the only technique allowing to have an image of the fetus with good safety. There is no allergy or contraindication to this examination;
  • it is painless for the patient. It does not require, with exceptions, neither hospitalization nor anesthesia. It can be repeated without problem;
  • Ultrasound is a relatively inexpensive medical imaging technique: it only requires one device and the cost of consumables can be negligible. The examination is carried out with a single person (doctor, midwife, for exmple);
  • the ultrasound machine is mobile, making it possible to carry out the examination on the patient’s own bed, in a resuscitation unit for example;
  • if it is performed by a doctor or a midwife, the result is immediate;
  • it is non-irradiating;
  • it is one of the only real-time imaging techniques, with which it is always possible to complete the questioning and clinical examination of the patient under examination. It allows great diagnostic precision in expert hands and makes it possible to use several modalities to specify an anomaly: 2D, 3D, planar reconstructions, contrast ultrasound, pulsed or color Doppler, elastography, dynamic maneuvers;
  • when echogenicity and distance from the organ allow it, echography has in some cases a higher spatial resolution than CT and MRI.
  • ultrasound can reveal the sex of the fetus before it is born.

Read also: Difference Between CT Scan and MRI? (Medical Imaging)


  • Non-medical ultrasound, which exposes the fetus to continuous ultrasound for cosmetic purposes, poses a risk to the fetus;
  • the image sometimes lacks sharpness, to the point of sometimes being unusable: this is the problem of echogenicity, weak in particular in the case of obesity;
  • the examination, and therefore its results, depend on the examiner: the measurements and the quality of the images depend very much on the position of the probe (cutting plane), and therefore, on the skill and competence of the ‘examiner. This manual positioning of the probe varies from one examination to another and is not known a priori, which makes any reinterpretation of the examination and any registration with another medical imaging modality complex. In other words, in case of doubt or discussion, the examination must be redone in its entirety, ideally by another examiner;
  • the main noise that disturbs ultrasonic images is speckle or “granularity” (because the image gives the impression of being formed of grains). This noise is due to the fact that ultrasound imaging is a coherent imaging technique, which allows interference between the waves and therefore this grainy aspect of the image. The reflections on the many small “impurities” in the propagation medium interfere with each other. Note that the importance of the speckle is linked to the density of these impurities (roughness of the material), it can therefore be a vector of information.

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Information: Cleverly Smart is not a substitute for a doctor. Always consult a doctor to treat your health condition.

Sources: PinterPandai, MedlinePlus, Mayo Clinic, Radiological Society of North America, Inc. (RSNA)

Photo credit: MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr

Photo description: 4D ultrasound diagnostic and equipment.


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