General

Ultrasounds: All you need to know

An ultrasound is an imaging technique that is commonly used.

An ultrasonographer applies gel to your skin and presses a probe to send sound waves into the body. The gel may feel cool to the touch.

The different layers of the body absorb and reflect the sound waves differently which produces bright and dark layers which we can then use to differentiate the different tissues and look for disease states or abnormal growths.

The ultrasound is an affordable, non-invasive, non-radioactive test that is performed by the bedside. Let us explore the common form of ultrasounds that is usually performed.

 

Breast Ultrasound

Ultrasounds of the breasts examine the breasts as well as look for enlarged lymph nodes in the axilla (armpit). They are useful to delineate lumps felt during examination. 

They can provide useful information that guides further management. It helps us to decide if furthermore invasive investigations such as a biopsy is needed. It is also frequently used to follow up on benign-looking lumps every few months to check for stability of the lump, making sure that there is no sudden increase in the size of the lump.

 

Abdominal Ultrasound

Ultrasounds of the abdominal are used to check the major organs in the abdominal cavity. The organs are namely the gallbladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas and spleen.

An abdominal ultrasound can help evaluate the cause of abdominal pain, check for kidney stones, liver diseases and tumors.

 

Hepatobiliary System Ultrasound 

An ultrasound of the hepatobiliary system examines the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and is sometimes able to examine the pancreas. You should be fasted before the examination.

For patients with abnormal liver enzymes, an ultrasound can be done to look for fatty liver (appearing brighter than normal). It is also used to look for any abnormal growths.

For patients with abnormally raised bilirubin, it is used to look for gallstones and dilated bile ducts or other causes of ductal obstruction.

An ultrasound of the liver is also done as part of yearly surveillance of patients who are at high risk of liver cancer, such as hepatitis B or C carriers.

 

Kidney Ultrasound

An ultrasound kidney examines the kidneys, ureters and the bladder. You should prepare for this examination by drinking about 500 ml to 1 L of water and hold your bladder for the hour before the ultrasound.

It is used to look for kidney stones in conjunction with an X-ray for patients with loin to groin pain. It can detect urinary obstruction with dilated ureters.

It is also used to investigate ballotable kidneys detected during a physical examination. It may be done every few months to monitor certain kidney cysts.

 

Pelvis Ultrasound

An ultrasound of the pelvis examines the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus.

It is commonly used to investigate abnormal vaginal bleeding and dysmenorrhea. It can detect ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and other abnormal growths. It can also be used to investigate pelvic inflammatory disease and abscess for patients with lower abdominal pain and purulent discharge from the vagina.

 

Unsure if you need an Ultrasound? Speak to our doctor to find out if an ultrasound is suitable for you.

 

Dr Jiayi Wong

M.B.B.S (Singapore) Bachelor of Medicine | Bachelor of Surgery

Started as a general practitioner in one of Minmed's clinic, Dr Wong is constantly looking for more challenges and ways to contribute as a medical professional.

Dr Wong now overlooks the medical protocols of the group while leading a team of doctors and nurses at Minmed's COVID-19 vaccination centres, mobile vaccination teams and COVID-19 testing operations.

A father of 3, his jovial nature never fails to cheer up those around him.