What is Sonography (Ultrasound) – Types, Benefits & Risks

Sonography Ultrasound

Sonography or Ultrasound imaging is a harmless and non-invasive medical test, which allows physicians to diagnose the medical condition of the patient without unnecessary pricking of the skin or piercing of the body parts.

What is Sonography (Ultrasound):

Ultrasound imaging, commonly called sonography involves exposing body parts to high-frequency sound waves to see images of the inner parts of the body. Examination by ultrasound, as opposed to X-rays, never involves the use of ionizing radiation. Images are captured in real-time.

Types Of Ultrasound:

Types Of Ultrasound

The usual Sonography or Ultrasound examination is made with a transducer (ultrasound probe) on the skin. Although, sometimes the technicians and doctors can get a much better image by inserting the probe into one of the body’s natural openings:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound: Inserting the probe into the vagina allows the examination of the uterus and the ovary 
  • Transrectal ultrasound:  Inserting the probe into the rectum allows the examination of the prostate
  • Transesophageal echo:  Inserting the probe into the esophagus to allows the examination of the heart and the esophagus

Uses of Ultrasound imaging:

It helps in examine the internal body organs including:

  • The liver
  • The bladder
  • The pancreas
  • The eyes
  • The spleen
  • The heart
  • Glands, like the thyroid and parathyroid
  • The reproductive organs, including ovaries, uterus, and covering of the testicles (scrotum)

Ultrasound imaging can also be applied to guide needles into the body for obtaining biopsies.

Benefits and risks


  • Most ultrasound examinations are non-invasive (no needles or injections), meaning that they are painless.
  • Ultrasound testing is less expensive, widely available and is very easy to carry out.
  • Ultrasound Imaging never exposes you to the cell damage.
  • Soft tissues that are hard to see on images from X-rays can be examined on ultrasound scans.
  • With real-time imaging, an ultrasound is an excellent tool to use as a guide in minimally invasive procedures, such as needle aspiration and needle biopsies.


There are no reported harmful effects of a standard diagnostic ultrasound.


  • The bowel and any organ hidden by the intestine cannot be examined because gas or air blocks ultrasound waves. 
  • Scanning overweight patients can be challenging because of the fat tissue. 
  • Ultrasound waves cannot easily pass through the bones in the body.


Ultrasound is a painless and non-dangerous diagnostic tool. It can help in examining internal body organs.


  1. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-an-ultrasound?page=2#1
  2. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=genus
  3. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Ultrasound-scan/Pages/Introduction.aspx