What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasound, also known as sonography or ultrasonography, is a procedure that transmits high-frequency sound waves, inaudible to the human ear (can’t be heard), through body tissues. The echoes are recorded and transformed into video or photos of the internal structures of the body in order to help make a diagnosis.

Ultrasound images help in the diagnosis of a wide range of diseases and conditions. The idea for ultrasonography came from sonar technology, which makes use of sound waves to detect underwater objects.

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

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

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy