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Uses and Limitations of Abdominal Ultrasound, Vascular Ultrasound and Sonohysterography

This article describes the use and limitations of three types of ultrasound including abdominal ultrasound, vascular ultrasound and Sonohysterography.

What is Abdominal Ultrasound?

The list of organs and conditions suitable for investigation by abdominal ultrasound is extensive. Abdominal ultrasound uses transducer research with a wider footprint and lower frequency to penetrate deeply and produce images of large structures and tissue areas. Once the gel is applied, the probe is applied directly to the stomach. Although this scan may be slightly uncomfortable and may require patients to have a full bladder, it does not hurt. Abdominal ultrasound in many cases is a diagnostic tool of choice as it is relatively safe, effective and non-invasive.

Limitations of Abdominal Ultrasound

However, abdominal sonographic scans generate low resolution images with limited clarity and are not good for providing images of air-filled organs or people whose views are blocked by intestines, which also contain air. In these situations, an MRI, CT scan or barium exam may be the preferred diagnostic tool. Another limitation is that larger patients with large amounts of tissue where sound waves must pass are more challenging for the image as the sound waves are weaker the more tissue they must penetrate into the deep abdominal structure.

What is Vascular Ultrasound?

Vascular ultrasound is used to evaluate the veins, arteries and blood vessels. Vascular sonography experts use ultrasound to detect plaque accumulation, blood clotting, embolism, blockage and similar problems. Vascular sonography can detect deep vein thrombosis, which is the presence of blood clots in the main arm or leg vein. It allows doctors to determine whether a patient is a good candidate for angioplasty and other interventions before performing this procedure. After arterial bypass surgery and other medical procedures, vascular ultrasound is used for follow-up assessment, sometimes immediately in the operating room. Finally, this type of ultrasound can detect enlarged arteries or aneurysms and enable a comprehensive assessment of varicose veins.

Pediatric vascular ultrasound images help medical providers successfully insert catheters and needles into the blood vessels of small children and thus reduce the risk of bleeding and extensive clot formation. They can also help doctors assess the connection of arteries to veins in cases of congenital malformations in the vascular system.

Vascular Ultrasound Limit

Vascular sonography has the limited ability to obtain images of blood vessels located in the body or small vessels at any location. CT, MRI or other specialized tests may be required to obtain a good image of the vessel. Another limitation is that ultrasound waves can be blocked from penetrating in locations where atherosclerosis has caused calcification in the artery. In some cases, ultrasound cannot distinguish vessels that are slightly obstructed from those completely blocked. Finally, this test requires an ultrasound technologist and interprets the physician with specialized knowledge and qualifications in vascular ultrasound.

What is Sonohysterography?

Sonohysterography, also referred to as hysterosonography or infusion sonography, is a pelvic ultrasound procedure that involves scanning the inside of a woman's womb using transvaginal implants inserted into the vagina. To obtain ultrasound images in this area, a baseline scan was performed after which the uterus was injected with sterile salt and treated again. Salt fluid enlarges the uterus and exposes its endometrial layer so that it can be scanned properly. This procedure is used to investigate abnormal vaginal bleeding caused by fibroids, polyps, endometrial atrophy, scars, mass or malignant lesions, and congenital problems.

Sonohysterography also helps in investigating the causes of pelvic pain, infertility and various miscarriages. When saline and air are injected, the procedure enables the investigation of air bubbles in the fallopian tube that can help identify abnormalities in this structure. Ultrasound can also be used to study blood-related issues such as blood clots, blood supply to tumors and polyps, pelvic aneurysms, and pelvic varicose veins.

Sonohysterography restrictions

Sonohysterography is usually not possible in cases where a woman has acute pelvic inflammation and is not performed during pregnancy. This procedure is usually performed one week after menstruation to minimize the risk of infection and as this is the best time in the menstrual cycle to assess the endometrium or uterine lining. This procedure may be difficult to complete in women with cervical stenosis or narrowing. Also, the possibility of a copy injection cannot develop enough uterus to get a good image. This can occur when the uterine scar or fibroid has destroyed the cavity of the uterus.


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