Post By
Gateway Diagnostic Imaging

September 11, 2023

What are the Different Types of Ultrasounds? And Other Frequently Asked Questions

While many people are familiar with the use of ultrasounds during pregnancy, ultrasound exams can be used for a wide variety of conditions on many areas of the body. Your doctor may order an ultrasound to look at your organs, check blood flow, assess inflammation in your joints, and more.

What is an ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a safe way for your doctor to see the structures inside your body. These exams use sound waves to create images, meaning they don’t require radiation like X-rays or CT scans. Sound waves can’t travel through bones or see structures deep within the body, which is why they are most often used in soft areas such as the abdomen.

How much does an ultrasound cost?

Ultrasound costs vary depending on the type of ultrasound and where you have the procedure done, with prices anywhere between $200 and $500 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This cost can also vary depending on your insurance coverage. If cost is a concern, Gateway Diagnostic Imaging is here to help.

What are the different types of ultrasounds?

At Gateway Diagnostic Imaging, we offer standard and Doppler ultrasounds, including arterial, carotid, liver, renal and venous. Doppler ultrasounds specifically show your blood moving through your body, allowing your doctor to identify issues with blood flow, such as blood clots, narrowed veins and arteries, or tumors in your blood vessels.

We can provide many different types of ultrasound exams, including:

  • Thyroid
  • Neck
  • Aorta
  • Upper Extremity Non-Vascular
  • Lower Extremity Non-Vascular
  • Abdomen
  • Bladder
  • Spleen
  • Retroperitoneal
  • Pelvic
  • Pelvic (Transvaginal)
  • Testicular

Thyroid Ultrasound

Your doctor may order an ultrasound of your thyroid to check for nodules, or clumps of cells. You may get a Doppler ultrasound if your doctor finds nodules. These clumps of cells can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Blood flows differently through a benign nodule than a malignant one, so a Doppler ultrasound can help your doctor evaluate whether or not the nodule is likely to be cancerous. A thyroid ultrasound can also be done if you’ve been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, thyrotoxicosis, or thyroiditis. Using a Doppler ultrasound, your doctor may be able to see what’s causing these conditions.

Neck Ultrasound

Doppler ultrasounds can be used on your neck to see blood flow through the carotid arteries. These arteries move blood from the heart to the brain. Blocked or narrowed carotid arteries can increase your risk of a stroke, so your doctor may recommend a neck ultrasound if you have other risk factors for strokes, such as high cholesterol or a family history of strokes or heart disease. A neck ultrasound may also be used to detect other issues with the carotid artery or to check your blood flow after certain surgeries.

Aorta Ultrasound

While your thoracic aorta can only be seen by an MRI or CT scan, your abdominal aorta can be checked with an ultrasound. An ultrasound is used to see if your abdominal aorta is enlarged. An enlarged abdominal aorta can lead to an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a condition in which your abdominal aorta bursts and can cause life-threatening bleeding. Your doctor may recommend an aorta ultrasound if you have any symptoms of abdominal aorta enlargement, like pain or rectal bleeding. You may also need an aorta ultrasound if you have an increased risk of abdominal aorta aneurysm, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Upper & Lower Extremity Non-Vascular Ultrasound

An upper or lower extremity non-vascular ultrasound is used to create images of the tissue in your arms and legs. Ultrasounds are a non-invasive way to check for soft tissue injuries, such as tears, strains, and sprains, as well as masses, cysts, and other issues.

Abdominal Ultrasound

Abdominal ultrasounds are ordered if your doctor is concerned about abdominal pain, a swollen abdomen, or abnormal functioning in the pancreas, spleen, liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, abdominal aorta, and other structures. These ultrasounds can show the size of your organs, check for injuries, or identify other markers of diseases. Through an abdominal ultrasound, your doctor may find cysts, tumors, abscesses, or obstructions.

Bladder Ultrasound

A bladder ultrasound can help your doctor identify the cause of various bladder problems, including pain during urination, blood in your urine, difficulty urinating, difficulty emptying your bladder, or urinary leaking. These exams are often done both when your bladder is empty and when it’s completely full. This allows your doctor to see how much your bladder can hold, how much urine remains when you’ve emptied it, and if there’s anything blocking your bladder.

Spleen Ultrasound

Spleen ultrasounds are often used to determine if the spleen is enlarged (splenomegaly). This can be caused by a variety of health concerns, such as blood or lymphatic diseases, cancers, infections, or liver disease. Your doctor may also recommend a spleen ultrasound if you’ve experienced abdominal trauma like a sports injury, or if they suspect an infection or tumor on your spleen.

Retroperitoneal Ultrasound

To view the area behind your intestines and other organs, your doctor may order a retroperitoneal ultrasound. This makes it easier for your doctor to see your kidneys, ureters, and related structures. You may need a retroperitoneal ultrasound to check for aortic aneurysms, renal cysts, appendicitis, pancreatitis, gallstones, kidney stones, or certain cancers.

Pelvic & Transvaginal Ultrasound

Pelvic ultrasounds let your doctor see the internal structures of the female reproductive system, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Your doctor may recommend a pelvic ultrasound if you’re experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, or other issues related to menstruation. A regular pelvic ultrasound is performed on your abdomen, just like an ultrasound for pregnancy, while a transvaginal ultrasound is done by inserting a thin wand into the vagina. This allows your doctor to get a clearer image of your reproductive organs than through a pelvic ultrasound. Both exams can help to diagnose a wide range of conditions, like uterine scarring and abnormalities, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and cancers.

Testicular Ultrasound

A testicular ultrasound is used to determine the cause of testicular pain, look at lumps in the testicles, and check the blood flow through the testicles. This exam is done by moving the ultrasound wand over the scrotum, creating an image of the internal structures. Your doctor may order this scan to diagnose testicular torsion, tumors, abcesses, or cysts.

Ultrasounds are a powerful, safe, and non-invasive way for your doctor to see what’s happening inside your body. These exams can be used to create images of your organs, check blood flow, and help your doctor evaluate your risk for various medical conditions. Learn more about our ultrasound services.

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