what is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a medical test used to help diagnose disease and assess organ damage. Doctors can use ultrasound to determine the cause of pain, swelling, and infection of the internal organs of the body. Some of the organs that can be examined by ultrasound include the heart and blood vessels, gallbladder, liver, uterus, eyes, and more. If you’re pregnant, you’ll need regular obstetric ultrasounds, which can help your doctor visualize your fetus’s brain, hips, and spine. Ultrasounds are also often used to help doctors guide procedures such as biopsies or assess damage after a heart attack.
how should you prepare for an ultrasound?
Preparation for ultrasound procedures varies depending on where the exam is performed on the body. Some scans may require you to refrain from eating or drinking 12 hours before the exam, while others may specifically require you to drink a couple of glasses of water before the exam and avoid urinating. your health care provider will specify any preparation needed for your ultrasound. For any of the exams, you should wear loose clothing, as you may need to change into a gown.
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how does an ultrasound procedure work?
Most ultrasounds take 30 minutes to an hour. A gel is applied to the skin over the area being examined to prevent air pockets that can block sound waves. The gel is water based and is easy to remove, but may feel cool at first after application. A trained technician, also called a sonographer, will then press a device (transducer) against the area being examined and move around to capture images.
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Some ultrasounds are done inside your body. Instead of using the transducer externally, as described above, it can be attached to a probe that is inserted into a natural opening in the body. examples include a transrectal ultrasound to show images of the prostate, a transvaginal ultrasound that shows the uterus and ovaries, or a transesophageal ultrasound inserted into the esophagus to obtain images of the heart.
Are there risks associated with having an ultrasound?
Ultrasounds are safe procedures that use low power sound waves with no known risks. These exams are usually painless, although you may feel slight discomfort when the transducer is pressed against your skin externally. This discomfort is more common in patients who have been required to have a full bladder before their exam, or for procedures that require internal insertion of the transducer.
dr. primo states that “there are no significant risks from ultrasound examinations since it uses sound waves. There is a theoretical risk of heat damage to a very early tiny fetus, but that is highly unlikely and you would have to keep the probe in the same position much longer than any normal exam for that to happen.”
how can you save money on ultrasound exams?
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Ultrasounds were shown to save uninsured patients an average of $2,826 compared to other diagnostic tools. however, while ultrasounds can be a more affordable diagnostic test compared to other options, they can still be expensive. Here are some ways to save money on an ultrasound exam:
- opt for a 2d ultrasound. While 4D ultrasounds can be exciting for new parents to visualize their developing fetus, “they’re not medically necessary and unlikely to be billed through insurance,” says dr. cousin.
- If you have insurance, see an in-network provider. It is important to make sure your health care provider accepts your insurance. ultrasounds can be significantly cheaper when covered by your insurance.
- go to an outpatient facility. As long as you’re not experiencing any serious symptoms, you should try going to a doctor’s office or an urgent care center for an ultrasound. Getting tested at facilities is often less expensive than at hospitals.
- Call multiple locations. The price of an ultrasound can vary greatly within a given state or city. call a few facilities near you and ask about prices to find the most affordable option.
Ultrasound procedures are safe and can save money when used as a diagnostic tool instead of other types of tests. Typically, one can expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $1,000 on an ultrasound when paying out of pocket, but the price largely depends on the type of ultrasound, the location, and the type of clinic offering the exam.
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