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Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrasound Procedures and Exams

Neck/Thyroid Ultrasound Imaging
Abdominal Ultrasound Imaging
Pelvic Ultrasound Imaging
Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging
Venous Ultrasound Imaging
Musculoskeletal Imaging

Ultrasound (US) uses sound waves, like sonar, to obtain pictures of the inside of the body. It is commonly used to evaluate pregnancies, structures within the neck, abdominal organs such as the gallbladder, liver, and kidneys, pelvic organs such as the uterus, ovaries, and testes, blood vessels in the arms, legs, and neck, and certain tendons. It is a quick, painless, and relatively inexpensive procedure.

The ultrasound machine

The Ultrasound machine has a transducer, which is a small hand-held device which looks like a microphone. The sonographer will put a clear, water-soluble, lubricating gel on your skin and firmly press the transducer against the skin.

The ultrasound image is then seen on a computer screen attached to the machine. The radiologist or sonographer watches this screen during this examination. During the examination, they will “freeze” the images on the screen and save pictures from it, which will be evaluated by the radiologist.

Ultrasound is based on the same principles as sonar used by ships, bats, or fishermen with fish detectors. As the sound waves go through the body, the waves bounce back, or “echo”, back to the transducer. A very fast computer in the ultrasound machine interprets how far away the tissue is that caused the echo, its size, shape, and consistency (such as fluid or solid). It then turns this information into the pictures you see on the monitor.

Most of the images are of varying shades of gray. These are “2-D” images designed to show detailed anatomy. Images also can be obtained with Doppler technique, which detects movement within tissues, particularly specific characteristics of moving blood within vessels. These Doppler images can be shown on the computer either as color Doppler pictures or as duplex Doppler pictures. Duplex Doppler shows us white waves, and is usually associated with listening to the waves at the same time, which often gives a rhythmic whooshingsound.

For more information on abdominal ultrasound, check out: (a good general site on abdominal US), and (a similar site, by the National Institutes of Health, with general pictures)

Frequently Asked Questions About Ultrasound:

How much radiation do I get from an Ultrasound?

Ultrasound uses sound waves and, hence, no radiation is involved.

Who will perform my Ultrasound examination?

Our Radiologists work with highly trained, expert ultrasound technologists. In contrast to some facilities, all of our technologists are registered, which means they have special ultrasound training and have passed a national certification examination.

How do I prepare for a neck/thyroid ultrasound?

Please wear loose fitting clothes, especially a shirt or blouse with a loose-fitting collar. Necklaces and other such jewelry, which may limit access to the neck, should not be worn.

What do I do to get ready for my gallbladder or abdomen ultrasound?

Please do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the study. This helps the gallbladder fill with fluid and makes it easier to see.

How do I get ready for a non-obstetric pelvis ultrasound?

There is no special preparation. Previously, patients were asked to drink a large amount of water before the study, to make your bladder full; this is no longer necessary.

How do I prepare for a pregnancy ultrasound?

Again, no special preparation is needed.

At the time of my pregnancy ultrasound, can I learn the sex of my baby?

It is our policy in general not to identify the baby’s gender. Often it is difficult to evaluate through ultrasound, especially in the 1st and 2nd trimesters.

When will my doctor get the test results?

Our radiologists look at all of your pictures and compare this study with any of your previous examinations. Our typed report is available to your doctor usually within one day.


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