First Time User? Enroll now.
Find Vaccine information, visitor restrictions, and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Ultrasound test
Ultrasound is a test that uses reflected sound waves to produce an image of organs and other structures in the body. It does not use X-rays or other types of possibly harmful radiation.
For ultrasound testing, gel or oil is applied to the skin to help transmit the sound waves. A small, handheld instrument called a transducer is passed back and forth over the area of the body that is being examined. The transducer sends out high-pitched sound waves (above the range of human hearing) that are reflected back to the transducer. A computer analyzes the reflected sound waves and converts them into a picture that is displayed on a TV screen. The picture produced by ultrasound is called a sonogram, echogram, or ultrasound scan. Pictures or videos of the ultrasound images may be made for a permanent record.
Ultrasound is most useful for looking at organs and structures that are either uniform and solid (such as the liver) or fluid-filled (such as the gallbladder). Mineralized structures (such as bones) or air-filled organs (such as the lungs) do not show up well on a sonogram.
Current as of: June 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Howard Schaff MD - Diagnostic Radiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.