An ultrasound is a medical diagnostic imaging device that uses sound waves to create images. People tend to associate ultrasounds with pregnancy, but they have many medical uses, both diagnostically and therapeutically.
Diagnostic ultrasounds, sometimes called medical sonography, use high-frequency sound waves to detect and reconstruct structures within the body. These images provide Dr. Shusterman with valuable information. For example, he can locate prostate abnormalities or measure the size of a lump in the testes.
That is one of the best parts of this test. It is both pain-free and risk-free. For many patients, it is a more comfortable option than advanced imaging procedures like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scan. It also is done right in the office, allowing Dr. Shusterman to see what is going on in real time. In order to see some structures clearly, the patient may need a full bladder, which is uncomfortable, but the exam is quick.
The staff at NY Urology may ask each patient to change into a gown prior to having the ultrasound done, so clothes don't interfere with the test. The patient lies down on an exam table. The application of a gel seals the skin to remove any air pockets that get in the way of the sound waves.
Dr. Shusterman or one of his staff presses a hand-held device to the skin and moves it around in the gel. The device is about the size of a bar of soap and slides over the skin smoothly without causing pain. The patient may feel some pressure as it moves, though.
The device, called a transducer, sends sound waves into the body and then collects them as they bounce back. It sends those collected waves to a computer where they are translated into an image on a screen. Since structures interfere with the sound waves, they show as blocked off areas on the screen. The test should take less than 30 minutes to complete.
The ultrasound is a very accurate imaging device, although not as comprehensive as other tests. It is effective for use on soft tissue and often used to examine the testes to see a lump or other questionable structures within the urinary tract system.
Ultrasounds use advanced sound wave technology to create images of the inside of the body. During the scan, a technician uses a handheld wand-like device called a transducer to send sonic waves through the body. These sound waves then bounce off the tissues and organs at different speeds and frequencies, which creates an image on a video screen. Since kidney stones are made of crystalized mineral deposits, they stand out against the softer tissue of the kidneys and ureters.
Ultrasounds are completely safe and painless. They’re an effective and accurate diagnostic tool that not only confirms the presence of kidney stones, but also locates them and determines their size. That makes them an effective tool for informing Dr. Shusterman’s treatment recommendations.
As with most medical conditions, the earlier a diagnosis is confirmed, the sooner treatment can begin.
With a kidney stone diagnosis, treatment for a small stone can be as simple as a prescription for pain medication and instructions to drink plenty of water. In this ideal situation, you may be asked to collect your urine so it can be tested for chemicals that characterize a kidney stone’s presence.
You won’t need to do anything to prepare for an ultrasound, but you may want to wear loose clothing so Dr. Schusterman can access your skin more easily. If you think you might have kidney stones because of your symptoms, you should increase your daily water intake.
It's unnecessary to have a full bladder for this particular ultrasound, as a scan can be completed regardless of fullness of bladder.
If you’re diagnosed with kidney stones, Dr. Shusterman will suggest the treatment that will most effectively remove the stone from your body. If the stone is very small, no intervention may be required. If the stone is larger, Dr. Shusterman may suggest stents -- a minimally invasive procedure -- to break up and remove the stone, or an extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy treatment to break up the stone into smaller pieces to enable the stones to pass naturally.