Ultrasound imaging - also known as sonography - uses sound waves to produce images of organs, vessels and tissues in the body. Ultrasound may be used to detect breast cysts or gallstones and to examine the prostate and to examine the liver, kidneys, pancreas, spleen, colon and urinary bladder for tumors, inflammation, stones or cysts. The use of ultrasound is expanding into the field of sports medicine as an effective way to detect ligament, tendon and nerve injuries. Ultrasound also can be used to guide needle placement for biopsies, and to guide the drainage of cysts or fluid collections in the abdomen or chest that occur with some illnesses.
Because ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation to create images, it is a safe form of fetal imaging. Ultrasound also plays a significant role in the evaluation and treatment of infertility.