How does an ultrasound “work”?

Diagnostic ultrasound uses ultrasound waves to painlessly penetrate the skin and other tissues to take still images and video of the structures and processes inside the body. The waves pass through the skin and “bounce off” the structures inside the body, sending data to a computer where it can be translated into images.

When are ultrasounds used in podiatry?

Ultrasounds are often used to help diagnose soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains and to manage their treatment. They are also sometimes used in combination with x-rays to provide as much information as possible about diseases, injuries and other conditions to ensure the best possible treatment is administered.

What happens during a diagnostic ultrasound exam?

Ultrasound exams are usually performed in a darkened room to make it easier for the technician or doctor to see the computer screen where the images are being projected. During the exam, the patient may be either seated or lying down, depending on the area that is being evaluated. A water-based gel is applied to the skin and a unique handheld device called a transducer is passed over the skin surface. The gel helps the transducer make better contact with the skin, so the images that are created are as clear as possible. As the transducer is passed over the skin, it may be pressed firmly into the skin in some locations to obtain detailed images. In podiatry, most diagnostic ultrasounds take about 10 to 15 minutes to perform. Once the examination is complete, patients are able to resume their normal routines.

Are ultrasounds safe?

Yes, ultrasounds do not use any ionizing radiation, and they are safe and approved for use in podiatry and other types of medicine, including obstetrics where they are safe enough to be used to monitor the growth and development of an unborn baby.