What is ultrasonography?

In ultrasonography, or ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves, inaudible to the human ear (can’t be heard), are sent through body tissues. The echoes are recorded and converted into video or photographs.

Ultrasound images help diagnose a wide range of diseases and conditions. The idea for ultrasonography came from sonar technology, which uses sound waves to find underwater objects.

Ultrasound is used to create images of soft tissue structures, such as the gall bladder, liver, heart, kidney, female reproductive organs--even of babies in the womb. Ultrasound can also detect blockages in the blood vessels.

Ultrasound cannot be used to produce images of bones because they are too dense to penetrate. In addition, the intestinal tract and normal lung tissue are not easily identified with ultrasound because air or gas can interfere with the production of ultrasound images.

Ultrasound may be used by itself or with other diagnostic procedures.

What is examined during a renal ultrasound?

During a renal ultrasound, the kidneys are examined to determine their size, shape, and exact position.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/01/2017.


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