What is an ultrasound?
Also known as a sonogram, an ultrasound produces images on a screen by using a small transducer to both transmit sound waves into the body and record the waves that echo back. During an ultrasound exam, a registered nurse will apply a gel to the skin. This keeps air pockets from forming between the transducer and the skin which can block ultrasound waves.
The transducer sends high-frequency sound waves through your body. The waves echo as they hit a dense object, such as an organ or bone. Those echoes are then reflected back into a computer. This allows the medical professional to read the image on a computer or TV screen. Ultrasounds are a safe and painless procedure.
Why would I need an ultrasound?
Limited ultrasounds are performed when deemed necessary for the following purposes:
- Determine if the pregnancy is viable. (Is there a heartbeat?)
- Estimate how far along you are by knowing the gestational age, which helps in your decision-making process.
- Diagnose a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy (when the fetus does not attach to the uterus).