Ultrasonography the imaging of deep structures of the body by recording the echoes of pulses of ultrasonic waves directed into the tissues and reflected by tissue planes where there is a change in density. Diagnostic ultrasonography uses 1–10 megahertz waves.ultrasonograph´ic

In ultrasonography, a signal generator is combined with a transducer. Piezoelectric crystals in the signal generator convert electricity into high-frequency sound waves, which are sent into tissues. The tissues scatter, reflect, and absorb the sound waves to various degrees. The sound waves that are reflected back (echoes) are converted into electric signals. A computer analyzes the signals and displays the information on a screen.

Ultrasonography is portable, widely available, and safe. No radiation is used.


An imaging technique in which deep structures of the body are visualized by recording the reflections (echoes) of ultrasonic waves directed into the tissues.

Frequencies in the range of 1 million to 10 million hertz are used in diagnostic ultrasonography. The lower frequencies provide a greater depth of penetration and are used to examine abdominal organs; those in the upper range provide less penetration and are used predominantly to examine more superficial structures such as the eye.

The basic principle of ultrasonography is the same as that of depth-sounding in oceanographic studies of the ocean floor. The ultrasonic waves are confined to a narrow beam that may be transmitted through, refracted, absorbed, or reflected by the medium toward which they are directed, depending on the nature of the surface they strike.

In diagnostic ultrasonography the ultrasonic waves are produced by electrically stimulating a piezoelectric crystal called a transducer. As the beam strikes an interface or boundary between tissues of varying acoustic impedance (e.g. muscle and blood) some of the sound waves are reflected back to the transducer as echoes. The echoes are then converted into electrical impulses that are displayed on an oscilloscope, presenting a ‘picture’ of the tissues under examination.

Ultrasonography can be utilized in examination of the heart (echocardiography) and in identifying size and structural changes in organs in the abdominopelvic cavity. It is, therefore, of value in identifying and distinguishing cancers and benign cysts. The technique also may be used to evaluate tumors and foreign bodies of the eye, and to demonstrate retinal detachment. Ultrasonography is not, however, of much value in examination of the lungs because ultrasound waves do not pass through structures that contain air.

A particularly important use of ultrasonography is in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. It is a fast, relatively safe, and reliable technique for diagnosing pregnancy, and for detecting some typical fetal anomalies.

Quality of images depends on the skills of the operator. Obtaining clear images of the target structures can be technically difficult in overweight patients.

Ultrasonography cannot be used to image through bone or gas, so certain images may be difficult to obtain.