Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high-frequency sound waves. The reflected sound wave echoes are recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. No ionizing radiation (x-ray) is involved in ultrasound imaging. Obstetric ultrasound refers to the specialized use of sound waves to visualize and thus determine the condition of a pregnant woman and her embryo or fetus.

Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body's internal organs, including but not limited to the heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and bladder. Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show the movement of internal tissues and organs and enable physicians to see blood flow and heart valve functions. This can help to diagnose a variety of heart conditions and to assess damage after a heart attack or other illness.

Ultrasound is one of the most widely used diagnostic procedures available. It provides a safe, non-invasive and virtually painless means of observing soft tissue anatomy on an outpatient basis.

Our Philips ultrasound system generates an advanced level of image quality to help your physician diagnose with confidence. It may provide your doctor with all the information needed to recommend a course of action, eliminating the need for other types of more complicated exams or invasive procedures.

What exactly is diagnostic ultrasound? How does it work? 

Because it can be used in the most delicate conditions without major side effects, ultrasound has become one of the most popular diagnostic methods among both patients and physicians. Diagnostic ultrasound allows physicians to diagnose without invading the body with dyes, radiation or exploratory surgery.

Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by bats. During an exam, a sonographer moves a transducer over the part of the body to be imaged. The transducer functions as both a loudspeaker (to create the sounds) and a microphone (to record them). High-frequency sound waves reflect off internal structures (soft tissue, organs and blood flow), producing echoes that are processed into an image displayed on the ultrasound system monitor. A qualified clinician will interpret the diagnostic information within the images to help build a diagnosis and suggest the next course of action.

When the examination is complete, the patient may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed. Often, the sonographer or radiologist reviews the ultrasound images in real time as they are acquired, and the patient can be released immediately.

What are some typical applications for an ultrasound exam?


Evaluation of fetal anatomy, age, growth, and position; imaging of the uterus and ovaries to evaluate pelvic abnormalities.


Identification of pathology in abdominal organs, OB/GYN and prostate scanning, evaluation of blood flow throughout the vascular system.


Evaluation of heart motion, including the chambers, vessels, walls and valves, assessment of blood flow through the chambers of the heart.


Examination of vessels, such as the carotid arteries, to detect and precisely locate any possible blood flow obstructions.


Examination of tendons, ligaments and joint spaces to evaluate shoulder, Achilles tendon and repetitive motion injuries. With ultrasound, the clinician can examine your shoulder or ankle, for instance, while you perform a range-of-motion movement.


Detection of congenital conditions and the cardiovascular system.