Ultrasound Imaging

Count on radiology technicians and doctors at Essentia Health for accurate ultrasound imaging. Getting an ultrasound can help your doctor diagnose a health condition and develop a treatment plan.

What’s Ultrasound Imaging?

Ultrasound imaging—or sonography—uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of organs and other soft tissue structures inside your body. The test doesn’t use any radiation and is quick, noninvasive, and painless

When is Ultrasound Used?

Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound to:

  • Investigate causes of pain, swelling, or infection
  • Diagnose certain muscle, tendon, and ligament conditions (musculoskeletal ultrasound)
  • Examine internal organs
  • Evaluate blood flow in your veins and arteries (Doppler ultrasound)
  • Diagnose breast cancer (breast ultrasound)
  • Diagnose heart conditions or assess damage after a heart attack (echocardiogram)
  • Guide minimally invasive procedures, such as needle biopsies and cortisone injections
  • Monitor the development of an unborn baby during pregnancy

Medical Insight - MSK Ultrasound Video Transcript

SPEAKER: Welcome to Medical Insight, a weekly health care feature brought to you by the experts at Essentia Health.

Text, Essentia Health. Here with you. Medical Insight

Here's your host, Maureen Talarico. MAUREEN TALARICO: Today on Medical Insight, we talk with orthopedics and sports medicine physician, Dr. Heather Grothe, about musculoskeletal or MSK ultrasound. DR. HEATHER GROTHE: Ultrasound uses sound waves to visualize structures beneath the skin, and so it's similar technology that you're familiar with that we use in OB ultrasound when visualizing babies. And so it's very safe. There's no radiation. It's also safe for people with pacemakers.

A hand held ultrasound device presses on a woman's shoulder.

MAUREEN TALARICO: Dr. Grothe explains how MSK ultrasound complements the orthopedic practice. DR. HEATHER GROTHE: So the Musculoskeltal Ultrasound Program is a unique program where we collaborate with our sports medicine and orthopedic colleagues. We have specialized training in ultrasound, which we use to help evaluate superficial soft tissue structures and help diagnose disorders of the joints, tendon, ligament, muscle, and nerves. We can also use ultrasound to help guide interventional procedures and injections. MAUREEN TALARICO: This musculoskeletal ultrasound technology is instrumental in accurately diagnosing orthopedic injuries. DR. HEATHER GROTHE: Ultrasound has really revolutionized what we can do from both a diagnostic and a treatment standpoint from musculoskeletal injuries. I mean, we can see very fine resolution with the ultrasound machine, and we can see tiny little nerves and ligaments that we otherwise are unable to see with MRI.

A screen with an ultrasound readout shows a live ultrasound. A medical professional points out details on the screen.

Ultrasound has the advantage in that it's dynamic, and it's real time. And we can see what's happening as you're moving and seeing if that maneuver reproduces your pain and symptoms. And we can also use ultrasound to compare it to the patient's other side or the side that's not painful to see what's normal for that patient. MAUREEN TALARICO: From Medical Insight, I'm Maureen Talarico. SPEAKER: To learn more about this topic, call our experts at 786-3107.

Text, Medical Insight. 218-786-3107. Essentia health dot org. Essentia Health. Here with you.

What to Expect During an Ultrasound

Most ultrasound exams take 30 minutes or less. Ultrasounds are painless and noninvasive—they don’t involve any needles or injections. You’ll be able to go back to your daily activities immediately after the test.

For most types of ultrasound exams, you’ll lie on a table. You may lie on your back or on your side depending on the area your doctor will examine. Your doctor or sonographer will apply warm gel to the area being examined and gently move a small, handheld device called a transducer across your skin.

For some ultrasound tests, the transducer is attached to a probe so your doctor can get a better view of certain internal organs, such as the heart, prostate, uterus, or ovaries. Most ultrasound exams take 30 minutes or less.

Your Ultrasound Results

Count on the radiologists at Essentia to accurately read your ultrasound pictures and share the results with your primary care or referring physician. Your doctor will talk to you about the results.

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