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Ultrasonography or Ultrasound is a diagnostic test that uses high-frequency sound waves to generate images of various soft tissues. These include blood vessels, tissues and organs.

It is used in a variety of clinical settings, including obstetrics & gynecology, cardiology and cancer detection as it can effectively evaluate various parts of the body such as the abdomen, breasts, pelvis, prostate, scrotum, thyroid and parathyroid glands. It is also a must-use diagnostic tool for expectant mothers to evaluate the development of the foetus.

Among its main advantages is elimination of the use of radiation as in X-rays. It can also generate moving images of the organ being examined so that it can be viewed in real time.

Obstetrics & Gynecology
  1. To measure the size of the foetus to determine the due date
  2. To determine the position of the foetus to see if it is in the normal head-down position or breech
  3. To check the position of the placenta to see if it is improperly developing over the cervix
  4. To assess the number of foetuses in the uterus
  5. To check the foetus's growth rate
  6. To detect an ectopic pregnancy
  7. To determine whether there is an appropriate amount of amniotic fluid cushioning the baby
  8. To monitor the baby during specialised procedures such as amniocentesis to avoid injuring the foetus
  9. To see tumors of the ovary and breast


  1. To measure blood flow through the kidney
  2. To detect kidney stones
  3. To detect prostate cancer early
In the recent past, ultrasound machines capable of three-dimensional (3D) imaging have been developed. These machines first acquire several two-dimensional (2D) images by moving the probes across the body surface or rotating inserted probes. These 2D scans are then combined by specialised computer software to form a 3D image. 3D imaging provides a better look at the organ being examined and is best used for:

  • Early detection of cancerous and benign tumors
  • Examining the prostate gland for early detection of tumors
  • Looking for masses in the colon and rectum
  • Detecting breast lesions for possible biopsies
  • Visualising a foetus to assess its development, especially to observe abnormal development of the face and limbs
  • Visualising blood flow in various organs or a foetus

Doppler ultrasound is based on the Doppler Effect. When an object reflecting ultrasound waves is moving, it changes the frequency of the echoes, creating a higher frequency if it is moving toward the probe and a lower frequency if it is moving away from the probe. How much the frequency changes depends on how fast the object is moving.

Doppler ultrasound measures the change in frequency of the echoes to calculate how fast an object is moving. It is therefore used mainly to measure the rate of blood flow through the heart and major arteries.