When the now-famous paper on ultrasound was published in Lancet in 1958, the authors had no idea that their medical research would usher in a rite of passage for expectant parents that’s still popular today — sharing the first image of their unborn baby through the marvel of ultrasound technology.
Although that moment in medical history is commonly recognized as when ultrasound technology was introduced to the practice of medicine and OB/GYN practices, the seed was sown for this medical breakthrough by earlier scientists.
How ultrasound works
Ultrasound uses sound waves to form images that allow doctors to see inside a patient’s body. An instrument known as a transducer is moved over your skin, and it sends sound waves through the body. When they hit organs and tissues like the uterus, ovaries, or bladder, the sound waves bounce back to the transducer and are transformed into an image that is viewed on a monitor.
There are several reasons women may need ultrasound testing. We outline a few of them here.
Viewing your unborn baby
One of the more noteworthy uses of ultrasound testing is to monitor the sex, gestational age, and health of unborn babies. Pregnancy can be both an exciting, but also nerve-racking, time for the soon-to-be Moms and Dads. However, with ultrasounds doctors can give parents a glimpse of their babies ahead of time.
Ultrasound can be used to pinpoint a more accurate due date, discover anomalies early on, and uncover the answer for your gender-reveal event – the sex of your baby. At our practice we also offer 3D and 4D digital ultrasounds to provide you with your baby’s very first digital photography, and we can even text the images to you.
Diagnosing the cause of abnormal bleeding or pelvic pain
Abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain can be caused by a number of things, and ultrasound testing can provide answers for women who suffer from these issues. Oftentimes for gynecological issues, we do both a regular ultrasound and a transvaginal ultrasound.
With a regular ultrasound, the transducer is passed over your abdomen and pelvis area, just like how it’s done for pregnancy. For a transvaginal ultrasound, the transducer is inserted into your vagina to get a better view of your reproductive organs. These ultrasound tests can detect problems like uterine fibroids and polyps as well as pelvic masses.
Examining breast lumps
Another important use of ultrasound technology is examining breast lumps. If you’ve ever noticed a lump in your breast while showering or doing a monthly breast check, you know how scary it can be. The time between finding the lump and getting a diagnosis can be excruciatingly long.
An ultrasound is a great tool to figure out whether the lump is a solid mass or if it’s a liquid-filled cyst. Once that is determined, you may need to have a sample of the tissue or fluid taken using an ultrasound to guide the process. This is known as an ultrasound-guided needle biopsy.
Although it’s versatility to diagnose a wide variety of medical conditions is a definite plus, the fact that ultrasound is noninvasive and safe makes it the ultimate tool in every OB/GYN’s toolbox and an easy, comfortable test for patients.
If you’re pregnant, you need a well-woman exam, or you’re having pelvic symptoms that you’d like to have checked out, come in to see Dr. Lingenfelter. Make your appointment online or call our office in Princeton, West Virginia.