Primary care

Ultrasound examination

What is an ultrasound examination ?

Ultrasound is a fast, safe, largely side-effect-free and inexpensive examination method. It is technically called sonography. A doctor can use it to assess many different regions of the body and organs. The examination can be done on an outpatient basis in a doctor's office or in a clinic. A stay in hospital is usually not necessary.

When do you do an ultrasound examination?

Sonography is used in medicine both for diagnostics and progress monitoring of various diseases and for live monitoring of technically difficult interventions. Common areas of application include:

  • Examination of the abdominal organs (abdominal sonography), e.g. the kidneys
  • Sonography of the thyroid gland
  • Ultrasound of the heart (echocardiography)
  • Ultrasound of the vessels, e.g. the carotid arteries or leg veins
  • Sonography of the female breast (mammary sonography)
  • gynaecological ultrasound, e.g. for assessing the uterus, ovaries and during pregnancy
  • Ultrasound of the joints, e.g. the hip joint

What is the procedure for an ultrasound examination?

Depending on which organs are to be assessed in the practice, the ultrasound examination takes place in a sitting, standing or lying position (prone or side position).

First, a doctor applies an ultrasound gel to the transducer and often also to the affected area of skin, so that there is even contact between the transducer and the surface of the body. The ultrasound device sends ultrasound waves into the tissue via the transducer. Patients do not feel any of this. The ultrasound waves are reflected differently by the tissue, depending on its structure.

The transducer catches these reflected waves again and the ultrasound machine can calculate an image from them. This is then displayed on the monitor for the doctor and patient. The doctor often shows and explains the findings to the patient directly on the screen. The doctor can print out individual, particularly informative images directly from the ultrasound machine.

What do I have to pay attention to after an ultrasound examination?

After the examination, the doctor will give you a cloth to wipe off the ultrasound gel. If it has come into contact with your clothes, you do not have to worry: The gels commonly used nowadays are very watery and usually do not leave any permanent stains on your clothes. There are no special precautions regarding diet, driving or the like for the time after the ultrasound.