What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging (also called ultrasound scanning or sonography) is a relatively inexpensive, fast and radiation-free imaging modality. Ultrasound is excellent for non-invasively imaging and diagnosing a number of organs and conditions, without x-ray radiation.

Applications & Clinical Benefits of Ultrasound 

Because high-frequency sound waves cannot penetrate bone or air, they are especially useful in imaging soft tissues and fluid filled spaces. 

Ultrasound is good at non-invasively imaging a number of soft tissue organs without x-rays:

  • Heart
  • Pelvis and reproductive organs
  • Kidneys, liver, pancreas, gall bladder
  • Thyroid
  • Blood vessels
  • Fetus

Ultrasound Biopsy is also being used more and more to image the breasts and to guide biopsy of breast cancer.


Ultrasound is a common diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves like sonar to create a moving picture. Because sound waves are used instead of radiation, you will feel little or no discomfort. Ultrasound imaging (also called sonography) is a relatively inexpensive, fast and radiation-free imaging modality. It is excellent for non-invasive imaging of a number of organs and diagnosis for various conditions.

Usually you associate ultrasound with pregnancy. However, it is also helpful in the detection, diagnosis, and the monitoring of a number of potential problems, including:

  • Abdominal Disorders
  • Vascular Disorders
  • Cancer
  • Pelvic Disorders
  • Prenatal Disorders


Ultrasound is also being used more and more to image the breasts and to guide biopsy of masses to diagnose breast cancer.

Ultrasound Exam Description

Abdominal Disorders

Ultrasound is used to detect gallstones, as well as abnormalities in the liver, kidney, pancreas and spleen. It is also used to monitor kidney transplant patients.

Ultrasound is also extensively used for evaluating the kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart, and blood vessels of the neck and abdomen. Ultrasound can also be used to guide fine needle tissue biopsy to facilitate sampling cells from an organ for lab testing (for example, to test for cancerous tissue).

Pelvic Disorders

Transvaginal ultrasound helps determine the cause of pain or bleeding in a woman's reproductive organs. These tests often provide better images than traditional ultrasound and are used in early pregnancies or for pelvic procedures.


Ultrasound can locate masses in organs or tissues, is useful as a guide with needle biopsies, and helps detect prostate cancer or breast cancer while monitoring treatment.

Pregnancy (4D Ultrasound)

Ultrasound is used to check the health and development of your baby. It can determine if you are going to have multiple babies, or rule out potential problems in-utero.

Ultrasound Preparations

Compared to other radiology procedures, ultrasound requires little patient preparation. The preparation is dependent upon the type of exam.

Pelvic Ultrasound Complete/Obstetrical

A full bladder is needed for the exam, or you may be required to reschedule. Begin drinking 32 oz of water one (1) hour prior to exam time, and finish 30 minutes prior to exam. Do not void, a full bladder is needed for the best exam possible.


Be sure to drink 20 oz of water before the exam.

Upper Abdominal (Liver, Gallbladder, Spleen, Pancreas, Aorta, Kidneys)

Nothing by mouth for eight hours prior to the exam. All medications may be taken with water. Nothing by mouth (NPO) after midnight prior to your exam no smoking or chewing gum until after exam.
Diabetic patients should be scheduled first thing in the morning and have nothing in the stomach (NPO) after midnight prior to your exam.

Breast Ultrasound

Prior mammograms are usually needed. No preparation is required.

Carotid Duplex/Thyroid/Scrotal/Peripheral Vascular (Venous)/Endovaginal Pelvic Only

No preparation is needed.

If you have any questions regarding your exam or the preparation requirements please contact us at 575.556.1800 or Toll-Free 1.888.522.6631


Ultrasound imaging is finding a greater role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, heart attack, acute stroke and vascular disease which can lead to stroke.

Vascular Ultrasound is ideal in assessing blood vessels, using Doppler techniques. We are able to visualize red blood cells as they flow through the vascular system.

Blood Vessel Stenosis/Disease

Ultrasound evaluates blood vessels at risk for aneurysm (ballooning) or stenosis (abnormal narrowing), plaque and clots. 

Vascular Preparations

Carotid Duplex/Thyroid/Scrotal/Peripheral Vascular (Venous)/Endovaginal Pelvic Only

No preparation is needed.

What Is Bone Densitometry (DEXA)?

DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) is a safe, painless and highly accurate aid to physicians in the diagnosis of osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become brittle and more likely to break. DEXA examination of the spine and femur, sites where osteoporotic fracture occurs most often, is considered the standard examination for assessment of patients considered at risk for the development of osteoporosis and for monitoring those undergoing treatment for the disease.

DEXA uses very small amounts of radiation and a computer to measure the amount of bone mineral present and predict fracture risk by comparing this result to a normal reference group based on a patient's age, sex, weight, height and ethnic background. The test may be repeated to track drug treatment effectiveness over time.

Spine and Femur Densitometry (DEXA)

Spine and femur DEXA is generally recommended for those patients considered at risk or under treatment for osteoporosis. This test measures the bone mineral density of the spine and hip, sites where osteoporotic fracture most often occurs. DEXA testing assists the health care provider in making a diagnosis about bone status, predicting fracture risk and treatment planning.

Peripheral bone densitometry examinations of the heel, finger or wrist bones provide considerably less valuable measurements. Medicare and most payers now recognize this and generally provide DEXA benefits for women post menopause.

Good news for Medicare patients!

To complete this examination, expect to lie still on your back on a padded scanning bed, breathe normally and rest comfortably. The scan takes about 15 (fifteen) minutes.

How to prepare:

  • No special preparation is required.
  • You may eat and drink normally and take any medications you regularly take before and after your exam. Please advise our staff at the time of scheduling if you have had a recent upper GI or barium enema examination.
  • Avoid wearing clothing with metal buttons or zippers for your examination. A loose fitting outfit with an elastic waist would be best. Plan for 15 to 30 minutes to complete your examination. After your examination, you may resume your normal activities.
  • To avoid delay or rescheduling of your bone density test:
  • Arrive 10 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time to register and complete a medical history form for your test.

Osteoporosis Facts

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures of the hip, spine and wrist.


Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for more than 28 million Americans.

80% of those affected are women. 8 million American women and 2 million men have osteoporosis. 18 million more individuals have low bone mass, placing them at an increased risk for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is responsible for approximately 1.5 million fractures annually: including 300,000 hip fractures, 700,000 vertebral fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures and 300,000 fractures at other sites.

One in two women and one in eight men over 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime.

A woman's risk of hip fracture is equal to her combined risk for breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.


Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or fall causes a fracture or vertebra to collapse.

Collapsed vertebra may be detected by severe back pain, loss of height or spinal deformities such as stooped posture.


Safe, quick, comfortable and precise bone densitometry testing can detect low bone density before a fracture occurs and predict the chance of fracturing in the future. If testing is conducted at intervals of a year or more, it can be used to determine the rate of bone loss and/or monitor the effects of treatment.


By about age 20, the average woman has acquired 98% of her skeletal mass. Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis later. A good prevention program includes a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, weight bearing exercise, a healthy nonsmoking life-style with limited alcohol intake, bone density testing and medication when appropriate.

Common Risk Factors for Osteoporosis:

  • Being female
  • Thin and / or small frame
  • Advanced age
  • Family history if osteoporosis
  • Postmenopause, including early or surgically induced menopause
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Eating disorders
  • A diet low in calcium
  • Use of certain medications, such a steroids
  • Low testosterone in men
  • Inactive life-style
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol