While ultrasounds are common procedures, most people don’t pay attention to their choice of diagnostic centre – an oversight that could prove costly. You may be prescribed an ultrasound scan if your doctor wants to have a closer look at what’s going inside your body – especially at the tissues, organs or muscles. Of course, women most commonly need ultrasounds when they’re pregnant, but this article only deals with ultrasounds prescribed to diagnose medical disorders.
So why should you choose your diagnostic centre with care? Read on to know.
First, what is an ultrasound scan?
An ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the internal structures of the body. The ultrasound machine’s main element is a powerful transducer probe. This probe, when moved over your body, captures images by emitting and receiving sound waves. An ultrasound, thus, doesn’t use radiation, and is a non-invasive, painless process.
Why does your diagnostic centre matter so much?
An ultrasound scan helps your doctor understand what is going wrong in your body, and how to fix it. While the doctor may look at the scan image, it is the scan report that helps them confirm a diagnosis and prescribe the right course of treatment. This scan report, which interprets what your scan image shows, is done by a radiologist – a qualified doctor, and an integral part of the diagnostic centre team.
Thus, an ultrasound is an operator-dependent procedure. A good radiologist with adequate experience is the most important factor for an accurate interpretation of images, and hence the diagnosis. Even better is a specialized radiologist, who focuses only on specific parts of the body, thus having more experience and expertise, and enabling a more accurate diagnosis. For example, for a joint or muscle-related ultrasound, an MSK radiologist would be the best person to go to.
So before you decide on a centre, make sure that you are aware of the qualifications and expertise of the radiologists.
Not just the radiologists, but the ultrasound machine also matters.
Not all centres have the latest ultrasound machines with updated technology. Why does this matter? Because poor scanners result in blurred or low-resolution scan images, which may not provide the radiologist or the doctor with a clear picture of the insides of your body, thus increasing the likelihood of a missing an early diagnosis. It’s the difference between watching a movie in HD, versus watching a very low-resolution version, where the images are pixelated.
Choosing a reputed centre with the latest scanners can help the radiologist and your doctor pick up small details that may have been missed otherwise.
Other things to know about Ultrasounds:
● An Ultrasound and a Sonography test are used to mean one and the same procedure
● Doppler Ultrasounds, also known as Colour Doppler Ultrasonography, is a special ultrasound that measures the blood flow in the arteries or veins, or through different organs
● Preparations for an Ultrasound: Depending on the kind of Ultrasound needed, you may be required to fast, or to drink plenty of water
● Safety: Ultrasounds are extremely safe procedures with no known harmful effects on humans
● Ultrasound scans highlight tissue structures and organs clearly, which don’t show up on X-rays or radiographs
● However, for a more detailed picture of organs, tissues, muscles, bones, etc. your doctor may consider an MRI/CT scan rather than an Ultrasound