Ultrasound exams can help diagnose a variety of conditions and assess organ damage following an illness. Physicians use ultrasound tests to evaluate symptoms such as:
Types of ultrasound tests:
A cardiovascular ultrasound, or an echocardiogram (echo), uses ultrasound imaging to look at the size, shape and motion of the heart.
An echocardiogram shows:
- 4 chambers of the heart
- Heart valves and the walls of the heart
- Blood vessels leaving and entering the heart
- Pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart)
Specialized echocardiograms include:
- Contrast echo (a solution is injected into the vein and can be seen in the heart)
- Stress echo (records the heart’s activity during a stress test)
- Echo with Doppler ultrasound (helps assess blood flow)
- Transesophageal echo (a tube with an ultrasound device at the end is put down your throat into the esophagus. May be needed instead of standard echocardiogram for people with certain lung diseases or obesity.)
An echo may be used to:
- Evaluate a heart murmur
- Diagnose valve condition
- Look for changes in the heart’s structure
- Assess damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack
- Asses the function of different parts of the heart in people with chronic heart disease
- Test blood flow through the heart
- Assess chest pain
- Look for blood clots
Heart (Vascular) – Venous and Carotid
Venous ultrasound provides pictures of the veins throughout the body.
Ultrasound imaging of the breast produces a picture of the internal structures of the breast
Abdominal ultrasound imaging is performed to evaluate the:
- abdominal aorta and other blood vessels of the abdomen
Ultrasound is used to help diagnose a variety of conditions, such as:
- abdominal pain or distention.
- abnormal liver function.
- enlarged abdominal organ.
- stones in the gallbladder or kidney.
- an aneurysm in the aorta.
There are three types of pelvic ultrasound:
- abdominal (transabdominal)
- vaginal (transvaginal, endovaginal) for women
- rectal (transrectal) for men
Obstetrical ultrasound provides pictures of an embryo or fetus within a woman’s uterus.
An ultrasound of the thyroid produces a picture of the thyroid gland.
Ultrasound imaging of the scrotum provides pictures of the testicles and the surrounding tissues of a man or a boy.
Magnetic resonance imaging(MRI) is a test that uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures inside your body.
MRIs help physicians see how well you’ve responded to treatment or determine a diagnosis.
An MRI of the brain and spinal cord looks for:
- Blood vessel damage
- Brain injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injuries
An MRI of the heart and blood vessels looks for:
- Blocked blood vessels
- Damage caused by a heart attack
- Heart disease
- Problems with the structure of the heart
An MRI of the bones and joints looks for:
- Bone infections
- Damage to joints
- Disc problems in the spine
MRI can also be done to check the health of these organs:
- Breasts (women)
- Ovaries (women)
- Prostate (men)
How to prepare for an MRI?
Before your MRI, let your doctor know if you:
- Have any health problems, such as kidney or liver disease
- Recently had surgery
- Have any allergies to food or medicine, or if you have asthma
- Are pregnant, or might be pregnant
No metal is allowed in the MRI room because the magnetic field in the machine can attract metal. Tell your doctor whether you have any metal-based devices that might cause problems during the test. These can include:
- Artificial heart valves
- Body piercings
- Cochlear implants
- Drug pumps
- Fillings and other dental work
- Implanted nerve stimulator
- Insulin pump
- Metal fragments, such as a bullet or shrapnel
- Metal joints or limbs
- Pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
- Pins or screws