Diagnostic Ultrasound

Safe Diagnostic Ultrasound Center in Chicago

A diagnostic ultrasound is a non-invasive and painless procedure that examines a woman’s body. High frequency sound waves are reflected against internal body parts and systems to produce detailed images for examinations, check-ups and preventative treatments.

Patients are often concerned regarding the safety of diagnostic ultrasound, but researchers have not found any harmful effects as a result of the procedure since it was first used more than half a century ago. Women’s Aid Center in Chicago provides safe and easy ultrasounds for every woman’s health care needs.

Why do we use diagnostic ultrasounds?

Ultrasound examinations are used in cases where live images of organs, soft tissues and vessels are required to examine a patient. Though X-ray examinations are also an excellent way to see inside the human body without the use of surgery, they are considered to be dangerous in certain situations, due to damaging light waves. We are also limited in the number of X-rays that are safe to perform in a given amount of time, and they may not show as clear of an image of soft tissues as does the ultrasound technique.

Ultrasound is a safer test for women that are pregnant, nursing, or in need of a less invasive examination. Ultrasound imaging is widely available, less expensive than similar options (like MRIs and X-rays) and is easy to use.

What kinds of ultrasound tests are available?

Ultrasounds cover specific parts of the body to help health professionals form accurate diagnoses and assessments. We provide the following ultrasound tests:

  • Obstetric Ultrasound test
  • Pelvic Ultrasound test
  • Breast Ultrasound test
  • Carotid Ultrasound test
  • Thyroid Ultrasound test
  • Abdominal Ultrasound test

Are ultrasounds safe?

Physicians have used ultrasound to make images of the inside of the human body for nearly half a century. They are safer than X-rays because they do not rely on radiation to produce an image.   

To date, researchers have not identified any harmful biological effects caused by ultrasound, even while three million babies born each year have had ultrasound scans in utero (while in the womb).

WHAT IS AN obstetric ultrasound test?

An obstetric ultrasound is performed to confirm a pregnancy and determine its condition. The ultrasound test estimates the age, sex and physical features a baby will have. It also detects multiple pregnancies. It evaluates the position of the fetus and the placenta, and determines abnormalities in the embryo or fetus.

WHAT IS A pelvic ultrasound test?

A pelvic ultrasound examines the structures and organs in the lower abdomen, particularly the ovaries, uterus, and the urinary bladder. It helps find the causes of pelvic pain and abnormal bleeding due to polyps, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids or cancer.

It also monitors the condition of a pregnancy. Millions of expectant parents have seen the first “picture” of their unborn child thanks to pelvic ultrasound. The two methods we use to perform a pelvic ultrasound are:

  • Abdominal (transabdominal)
    • The patient lays back on an examination chair next to the ultrasound screen. A gel is applied to the abdomen to improve the contact between the imaging transducer and the body. The transducer is then placed on the abdomen and the image of your internal tissues is displayed on the screen.
  • Vaginal (transvaginal or endovaginal)
    • The patient is asked to sit in an examination chair with stirrups, similar to those during a gynecological exam. The transducer for a transvaginal exam is shaped like a wand and covered in a lubricated material to ease insertion into the vaginal canal. This type of pelvic ultrasound can provide better detailed images of different organs than those of the abdominal ultrasound.

WHAT IS A breast ultrasound test?

A breast ultrasound produces detailed imagery of breast tissues. It can determine whether a lump is a benign cyst, formed by fluid buildup, or a cancerous mass. It can also locate a known tumor to guide the doctor during a biopsy and other procedures. It is important to remember to regularly monitor your breasts at home, in order to know what your breast regularly feel like and when a breast ultrasound is necessary.

WHAT IS A Carotid ultrasound test?

Ultrasound of the carotid arterial system checks for fat building up in, and the narrowing of, the carotid arteries (stenosis). It is a noninvasive method that identifies blockages of blood flow in the neck arteries, which may lead to stroke. The test lasts for less than 30 minutes.

The risk factors for carotid artery disease are similar to those for other types of heart disease.

They include:

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) — the most important treatable risk factor for stroke
  • Abnormal lipids or high cholesterol
  • Diet high in saturated fats
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Family history of atherosclerosis, either coronary artery disease or carotid artery disease

WHAT IS AN Ultrasound of the thyroid?

An ultrasound of the thyroid produces pictures of the thyroid gland and the nearby structures in the neck. The thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormone, which regulates a variety of body functions, such as the heart rate.

Thyroid hormone problems usually affect women in the stage of menopause, causing many women to confuse thyroidism symptoms with menopause symptoms. Hot flashes, poor sleep, irritability, and palpitations are signs of both. Patchy areas, lumps, and nodules forming around the area are symptoms of hyper- or hypo-thyroidism.

Many nodules cannot be felt by hand. Although most of them are benign, some turn out to be real tumors that require immediate medical attention. After initial blood tests for thyroid hormone levels, thyroid ultrasounds can provide adequate information to medical practitioners as to what is wrong with the gland.

WHAT IS AN ABDOMINAL ULTRASOUND?

An abdominal ultrasound examines the internal organs, such as the stomach, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder. This can diagnose a variety of conditions and determine the source of pain and abdominal problems. (See more information above.)