This section with 12 short articles offers a systematic survey of the uses and limits of common types of ultrasound scans. In some cases, it builds on information presented earlier in the article 10 Types of Ultrasound Specialists to give a more complete picture of the capabilities of this powerful diagnostic tool as well as those contexts in which it has drawbacks or limitations.
The list of organs and conditions suitable for investigation by abdominal ultrasound is extensive. Abdominal ultrasounds use a transducer probe with a wider footprint and lower frequencies to penetrate deeply and generate images of large structures and areas of tissue. After gel is applied, the probe is used directly on the abdomen. Although this scan may be a little uncomfortable and may require that the patient have a full bladder, it is not painful. Abdominal ultrasound is in many cases the preferred diagnostic tool because it is relatively safe, effective and non-invasive.
Limitations of Abdominal Ultrasound
However, abdominal sonography scans generate lower-resolution images with limited clarity and are not good at providing images of air-filled organs or those whose view is blocked by the bowel, which also contains air. In those situations, an MRI, CT scan or barium test may be the preferred diagnostic tools. Another limitation is that larger patients with significant amounts of tissue through which sound waves must pass are more challenging to image because the sound waves become weaker the more tissue they must penetrate en route to deep abdominal structures.