How does an ultrasound work?
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create accurate images of the structures inside your body, including your organs.
Also known as sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, ultrasound imaging uses a handheld device known as a transducer to send sound waves through your body, where they come in contact with organs, tissues, fluids, and bones. Like echoes, the sound waves bounce back to the transducer, which turns them into pictures that can be viewed on a video screen.
Ultrasounds are performed in two ways:
- Transabdominally: After the ultrasound technician applies a lubricating gel to the surface of your skin, she will then pass the transducer across your abdomen. Prior to a transabdominal ultrasound, you may be asked to drink several glasses of water so that you have a full bladder. This will help the technician see your internal structures more clearly.
- Transvaginally: During a transvaginal ultrasound, a wand-shaped transducer is covered with a latex sheath, lubricated, and inserted into your vagina. The team will recommend that you empty your bladder for this test. Transvaginal ultrasounds aren’t used during pregnancy.