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Ultrasound imaging, also known as sonography, uses high-frequency sound waves (too high for a human to hear) to produce images of the inside of the body.
Ultrasound images are seen as they are actually happening. They can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.
Ultrasound imaging does not involve ionizing radiation but occasionally uses sedation.
Ultrasound can be used to aid in the diagnosis of pediatric cancers:
Ultrasound can also be used to guide needle biopsies used to diagnose tumors. Ultrasound is helpful because it can help doctors see the tumor’s involvement with surrounding blood vessels.
Ultrasound imaging is performed to evaluate the
Some pediatric facilities use ultrasound to screen patients who have a genetic condition that predisposes them to developing tumors. For example, patients with Beckwith-Wiedemann, Denys-Drash, Frasier, and WAGR syndromes have a predisposition to developing Wilms tumor.
An ultrasound technologist uses a probe called a transducer to see an image of the inside of the body. A transducer sends sound waves traveling into the body. The waves are reflected back from organs and tissues, allowing a picture to be made of the internal organs.
Some ultrasound exams use a contrast agent to aid in seeing the blood flow in the organs in the body.
If the patient does not already have an IV or port, then the nurse will need to start an IV. If an IV is needed, the staff will talk to the parent and child before it is done.
The contrast agent that is used is a type of microbubbles, which are small particles that are about the same size as a red blood cell and are very visible on ultrasound imaging. This is a safe, effective way to enhance an ultrasound image. The contrast agent is contained in a small 3 ml vial and has a milky appearance. Side effects are rare, and when they occur, they are mild and short lived (like a funny taste in your mouth). If parents have any questions about the use of microbubbles, they should ask the technologist or physician.
A Doppler ultrasound study may be a part of an ultrasound exam. Doppler ultrasound is a technique that shows blood flow through blood vessels, including the body’s major arteries and veins in the body. It is helpful in showing features such as
A radiologist, a doctor trained to supervise and read radiology exams, will look carefully at the images. Then that doctor will send a signed report to the primary care doctor or other staff member who sent the patient for the exam. The primary doctor will share the results with the patient and parents. In rare cases, the radiologist may talk about the results at the end of the patient’s exam.
A follow-up exam may be needed so that any abnormality can be observed over time. Follow-up exams are sometimes the best way to see if treatment is working or if an abnormality is stable over time.
Reviewed: October 2021