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Ultrasound has maintained its position as a safe and affordable general technique that is also highly convenient for the patient. It is particularly useful for the examination of abdominal organs.
An ultrasound examination gives a good overall picture of the condition of the organs in the upper abdomen, such as the liver, gall bladder, pancreas, spleen and kidneys. Gynaecological organs and the prostate may be assessed using special probes. An endorectal ultrasound probe is used in prostate evaluations. Accurate images of the thyroid gland and neck can be obtained with surface probes. Ultrasound examination of the breasts is usually performed to complement mammography findings.
Real-time ultrasound imaging is also useful as a guide in procedures such as needle biopsies, viral treatments and fluid drainage. The ultrasound device can easily be transferred to wherever it is needed, for instance to an inpatient ward.
Ultrasound is a completely safe imaging method. How well the internal organs can be visualized depends on the presence of bones or air that ultrasound cannot penetrate. Occasionally, an ultrasound examination may provide better images, e.g. of liver metastases, than a CT scan, but this is not always the case.
An ultrasound examination cannot be interpreted afterwards, since its documentation is not comprehensive in the same manner as with CT or MRI scans. The information obtained during the ultrasound examination is therefore always analysed during the evaluation.
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