Ultrasound is an incredible technology. Using high-pitched, inaudible sound waves projected directly into soft tissues of the body, an ultrasound or sonography machine can record and analyze the echoes of these sound waves and create a detailed image. This imaging can be used to evaluate many health conditions, as well as safely keep tabs on a baby while a mother is pregnant.
Advantages of Ultrasound Technology
In diagnosis and management of many diseases and medical conditions, ultrasound technology boasts numerous advantages over other commonly-used approaches. Here are just a few of the reasons why doctors love using ultrasound to help their patients learn about and understand their health:
Ultrasound is not usually painful and is noninvasive. The procedure can be performed quickly and easily, with little to no preparation on the part of the patient.
It has a variety of applications, including the diagnosis of or placement of cause for pain, infection, swelling and other afflictions of internal organs.
Ultrasound machines are also very versatile, with attachments available for both external and internal examinations for increased accuracy of results.
This technology is safe for expectant mothers and their babies, something few other diagnostic techniques can say.
Size, number, and density of many types of masses – from benign cysts to malignant cancers – can be determined through ultrasound, making it a truly lifesaving technique.
Ultrasound does not use ionizing radiation, so there is no risk of cancer being caused by testing, a thought that helps many doctors and their patients feel better about undergoing the test.
Disadvantages of Ultrasound Usage
Just as there are many reasons physicians love ultrasound technology, there are also drawbacks to its use. For the most part, ultrasound’s shortcomings are the fault of its noninvasive nature. Some of the most common reasons it is not treated as a definitive solution for evaluation include:
Ultrasound can be expensive. While it is usually covered by insurance with a doctor’s recommendation, it is costly to cover through cash payment. It is often reserved for when other approaches have been exhausted or ruled out for this reason.
Ultrasound requires the reading of a skilled technician, and because every medical professional is human, large variances between readers can mean different – and sometimes inaccurate – interpretations.
The instance of inaccurate identification of masses and growths as cancerous or noncancerous in patients relying on ultrasound rather than other techniques – such as mammography – is comparatively high.
Additionally, not all types of cancer or presentations of cancer growth will show up on ultrasound. For this reason, it is usually only used as one part of the overall screening and evaluation process.
When an ultrasound machine breaks down, it isn’t usually a simple fix. Replacement is expensive, so trained ultrasound equipment repair and service companies are usually called in for assistance This process can take time, resulting in rescheduled appointments and frustration on the part of patients.
Fortunately, there are ways around many of these issues. If you are a patient expecting an ultrasound soon, consult your physician or ultrasound technician to ask if ultrasound equipment repair may be a potential hold-up for your test. Many times, your doctor may be able to recommend another facility, and get you in and out and your results back before you even have time to worry about them!