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How do you read an ultrasound?

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Quick Answer

One basic technique for reading ultrasound entails correlating shades of black, white and gray with fluid, bone and tissue respectively. Cartilaginous material and low- or high-density organic matter will appear as gradations of these colors.

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Full Answer

An ultrasound image is the result of a transducer emitting repetitive arrays of high-frequency sound. These arrays, which human ears cannot hear, bounce off of soft tissue and organs, states WedMD. The transducer picks up the returning echoes, and they manifest as the images displayed on the monitor.

A doctor or radiologist then interprets the images. There are several types of ultrasound, including transvaginal ultrasound, transesophageal ultrasound and transrectal ultrasound. The first provides images of the uterus and ovaries, the second of the heart and the third of the prostate. Advancements include ultrasound technology that can assemble images of blood flow through vessels, 3D imaging to view three-dimensional ultrasound scans and 4D ultrasounds that depict 3D images in motion.

Ultrasound waves travel best through fluid. This is one of the reasons women seeking a fetal ultrasound are encouraged to have a full bladder at the time of the ultrasound. The fullness of the bladder also pushes the intestines out of the way of the uterus, making for a clearer image, claims WebMD.

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