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Medical ultrasonography

Medical ultrasonography is an imaging diagnostic technique used to visualize internal organs, their size, structure and their pathological lesions. It is particularly useful in delineating the interfaces between solid and cystic spaces.

Ultrasonography is widely utilized in medicine, primarily in gastroenterology, cardiology, gynecology and obstetrics, urology and endocrinology.
It is possible to perform diagnostic or therapeutic procedures with guidance of ultrasonography display (for instance biopsy[?]).

In obstetrics, ultrasound is used to visualise the baby in the womb. This can detect developmental defects, and can sometimes identify the sex of the baby. Ultrasound is believed to be harmless, unlike X-rays that use radiation.

Cardiologists can use ultrasound techniques to detect problems the heart. This is known as an echocardiogram[?]. This is usually done through the chest but sometimes it is necessary to perform transoesophageal echocardiogram (detecting device is inserted through the oesophagus). Thus better imaging is possible by bringing the probe closer to the heart.

Movement of the heart valves, and any vegetations growing on them can be established. Even the direction of the flow of blood can be displayed, alerting a doctor of any regurgitation through the heart valve.

Ultrasound can also be used to treat patients. With gallstones[?], or kidney and bladder stones[?], the stone can not only be visualised, but high frequency sounds can be used to fragment and demolish it, so it can then pass out of the body naturally.

See also : Doppler ultrasonography[?]

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