Thursday, April 2, 2009

What is a Sonogram?

What is a Sonogram?
A sonogram, also known as an ultrasound, is a computerized picture taken by bouncing sound waves off organs and other interior body parts. A wand called a transducer is glided along the outside of the body over a centralized area or organ. As it glides, it introduces sound waves into the body. These sound waves bounce off the intended area and back into the transducer, which feeds the information into a computer. The picture then appears on a special computer screen. The sonogram is most often used to monitor a pregnancy.
Because the sonogram uses sound waves and not radiation, it's completely safe. In addition, a sonogram can offer details X-rays can't. It's painless and in just about every case, the person receiving the sonogram will not be inconvenienced or made to feel uncomfortable in any way. Even more important, the sonogram is safe for the unborn child. Thanks to a sonogram, doctors can discover a tubal pregnancy early and take the proper measures to ensure the mother's safety.
A sonogram can also detect a multiple pregnancy, giving the doctor as well as the parents enough time to prepare. Birth defects can now be discovered early. Thanks to the sonogram, parents can even learn the sex of their unborn child months before the baby is due! Many parents appreciate knowing their baby's sex ahead of time so they can get the baby's room ready or shop for gender-appropriate clothes and toys.
A sonogram isn't used only to monitor a pregnancy. It can also identify the causes of pelvic bleeding and discomfort, find the source of menstrual problems, identify cysts and locate cancerous cells. A sonogram isn't just for women, either. It can also be used to help treat prostate and other cancers in men.
There is not too much preparation involved for a sonogram. It's all dependent on the area to be examined. For instance, those who are having an abdominal sonogram may be asked not to eat or drink anything for 24 hours so their doctor can better examine the stomach. A pregnant woman is usually asked to drink lots of water before her sonogram, as it helps the doctor to see the fetus a little better. Loose, comfortable clothing should be worn in order to make the procedure run a little smoother. Other than that, read all the instructions provided by your doctor.
The most important thing to remember is that a sonogram is routine, safe and painless. While you might be nervous before such a procedure, you'll wonder what you were so worried about when it's over.

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