Ultrasound imaging, also called a sonogram, is a medical diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. The University of Michigan Health System’s Radiology Department offers ultrasounds at eight different sites, staffed by 28 sonographers, who perform more than 30,000 examinations annually.

Ultrasound examinations on all parts of the body are available for both adult and pediatric patients. Obstetrical and gynecological applications are also offered. Special applications of ultrasound include:

  • Breast
  • Prostate and other cancer detection
  • Duplex and color-flow Doppler evaluation of blood vessels
  • Guidance for biopsy
  • Percutaneous (through the skin) aspiration
  • Hernia evaluation
  • Abscess drainage
  • Intraoperative procedures
  • Musculoskeletal (bone, joint and tissue) applications

An ultrasound works by using a transducer that produces and receives silent, high frequency sound waves. The transducer is usually a hand-held instrument that is placed against the body and slowly passed over the area to be examined. Sound waves pass through the skin into the body. As the waves strike against various organs, they send echoes back to the transducer. The echoes are changed into electrical energy by the transducer. The energy shows up as images on a display screen. Films of the images are then taken for further study and interpretation.

For a pregnancy, the non-invasive ultrasound exam is generally performed through the mother's abdominal wall. The ultrasound exam is used to identify the gestational age of the fetus, the number of babies in the pregnancy, how well the baby is growing, to look for any abnormalities and to assess the placenta.

Our cutting-edge equipment consists of 19 real-time scanners, all with Doppler and color-flow Doppler capability. Two machines have real-time 3D capability and two have radio frequency capture capability.

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