Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high frequency sound waves. The sound waves’ echoes are recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. No ionizing radiation is involved in ultrasound imaging. Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show movement of internal tissues and organs and enable physicians to see blood flow. This can help to diagnose a variety of conditions and to assess damage caused by illness.
In children, an abdominal ultrasound image is a useful way of examining internal organs, including the appendix, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, intestines, kidneys and bladder. Ultrasound is particularly valuable for evaluating abdominal pain in young children.
Appendicitis is the most common reason for emergency abdominal surgery. It can occur at any age, but is most common in young people ages 11 to 20. Ultrasound imaging is commonly used to help make the diagnosis of appendicitis in children.Ultrasound is fast, accurate and painless, does not require the child to remain still for long periods, and the equipment is less intimidating than the large tunnels of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan.
Ultrasound imaging can:
- Help a physician determine the source of abdominal pain, such as stones, abscesses or an inflamed appendix.
- Guide procedures such as needle biopsies, in which needles are used to sample cells from organs for laboratory testing.
- Help identify the cause for enlargement of an abdominal organ.
- Localize abnormal fluid in the abdomen.