How to read an ultrasound – Ultrasound Basics; How to read an ultrasound image

Ultrasound Basics; How to read an ultrasound image

Have you ever looked at an ultrasound image and wondered “What” are you looking at? Ever wonder which end is up? When others are discussing Bull or Heifer, ovarian diagnosis, or metritis treatment are you still looking to decide “What” it is?? Well, if you feel left in the dark when it comes to ultrasound images…..let’s start back at the basics.

Ultrasound is a non-invasive, immediate tool used to image tissue. It will not penetrate bone (like an X-Ray). So the first step to help you read the ultrasound image is to be familiar with the anatomy that you are imaging.

Various body tissues conduct sound differently. Some tissues absorb sound waves while others reflect them. The density of the tissue dictates the speed at which the echoes return.

If you remember that FLUID is always BLACK and TISSUE is GRAY. The denser the tissue, is the brighter white it will appear in ultrasound the brightest white being bone.

TISSUE                                                FLUID
Now, let’s look at a few images…

Bovine Ultrasound: Early Pregnancy

Bovine Ultrasound: Heifer Calf

Equine Ultrasound: 13 day Pregnancy

Sheep Ultrasound: 63 day pregnancy

Hopefully this will help you to “SEE” the ultrasound image. Remember, the more images you see the easier and clearer they will become.

Of course, choosing the right ultrasound equipment from a creditable company should also be an important decision. To learn more about the IBEX Portable Ultrasound watch this short video.

How to Read an Ultrasound: Gender and And Abnormality?

Introduced in the 1950s, obstetric ultrasound is now one of the most useful diagnostic tools used. It’s a non-invasive, safe, and accurate way of monitoring the developing of the growing fetus. You can even find healthcare providers using real-time scanners that show a continuous picture of your moving baby on a monitor screen. The experts can look at these imaging results to get important information about the growing baby. However, by knowing how to read an ultrasound, you can also get basic information about your baby.

How to Read an Ultrasound

You have to pay attention to a number of things in order to get important information from an ultrasound.

1.  Color

An ultrasound or sonogram picture is a black and white photograph, so they all look the same to someone who doesn’t know much about how to read an ultrasound. You need to understand that white is solid and black is liquid. This understanding will make it easier for you to see other details in an ultrasound image. Also, note that the solider tissue will look whiter on the ultrasound, and that’s why the bones look whiter and amniotic fluid will look blacker.

2.  Orientation

You have to determine the orientation of the image to read it better. You should know the mother’s head is going to be on the left in a longitudinal image, but the baby’s head is going to be at the top of the picture in transverse images. This is important to consider if the baby is head down or it is in the breech position. You can also look for the spine to determine if the baby is facing right or left.

3.  Characteristics of Your Baby

It is possible to determine the gender of your baby after the beginning of the second trimester. The problem is that sometimes a baby will have a leg in the way, hindering you to determine the gender. It is important to wait until the baby moves it to a better position. During the second trimester, it is also possible to distinguish eyelids, cheeks, lips, nose, chin and even hair through an ultrasound image.

4.  Any Abnormalities

To learn how to read an ultrasound, you cannot miss the unfortunate but possible structural abnormalities appeared in it. Your doctor will take fetal body measurements to ensure the baby is growing properly. You can, however, identify certain structural abnormalities on the first sonogram, and this includes congenital heart abnormalities, cleft palates and lips, spina bifida, Down syndromeand other specific conditions. It is also possible o notice placental abnormalities through ultrasonography.

Read an Ultrasound: Baby Girl or Baby Boy?

A large majority of couples who go for an ultrasound just want to know the gender of their baby. Although ultrasound images will help in this regard, the accuracy usually depends on a number of factors, including the equipment your healthcare provider uses, the age of your baby, and the cooperation of the baby.

You will have to go for an ultrasound around the midpoint in pregnancy because that’s usually the time when it is possible to find out the sex of your baby. It is usually called the fetal anatomy survey that provides information about the sex of the baby and shares details about fetal anomalies. Most women will have to go for the fetal anatomy survey between 18-22 weeks of pregnancy.

Baby Girl? When determining the sex of your baby, your doctor will most probably look for female genitalia, such as clitoris and labia. When they can see it, they refer to it as the «Hamburger Sign» because the image of the clitoris is between the labial lips.

Below is a video how a mom-to-be finds it’s a girl:

Baby Boy? Your healthcare provider may look for the turtle sign when looking for a baby boy. They look for the tip of the penis that usually peeks out from behind the testicles. Quite interestingly, baby boys can have erections even when in the stages of fetal development. This sometimes makes it easy to see if your baby is a boy.

Read an Ultrasound: What If There Are Some Abnormalities?

As mentioned already, you can identify abnormalities when reading an ultrasound. Many couples don’t know what they should do if they notice a problem with their baby. Sometimes, it is easy to make a definite diagnosis – that’s usually in case of spina bifida. On other occasions, an ultrasound may only show «markers» which are usually the signs of serious conditions such as Down’s syndrome.

If you have your ultrasound checked by an expert, he or she will contact your doctor immediately after noticing any sign of abnormality. Your midwife or healthcare provider will then discuss those issues with you and may suggest further testing, such as amniocentesis or CVS to look for chromosomal abnormalities.

It is difficult to stay calm in situations when you know for sure that your baby has a health problem. It is important to work with your doctor to make your choices, which may include preparing for the birth of a baby or even ending the pregnancy. You may even benefit from counseling support to make a decision. Just be sure to keep in constant touch with your healthcare provider to make a right decision.

BOY OR GIRL? How to Read Ultrasound Image at 6 Weeks


How should we interpret ultrasound image to determine if fetus has a bigger probability of being a boy or girl even at 6 weeks from the last menstrual period — using RAMZI’s Method?


RAMZI’s METHOD is based on a 2007 study «The Relationship Between Placental Location and Fetal Gender»  by Dr. SAAD RAMZI ISMAIL ,whereby «a total of 5376 singleton fetuses were studied in utero at two separate time intervals: 6 weeks gestation and at 18-22 weeks gestation. Actual «visualization of the genitalia for gender determination was obtained in the second trimester in 99% of male foetuses and in 98% of female fetuses. All these results were confirmed after delivery…»


THE RESULT: » 97.2% of the male fetuses had a chorionic villi /placenta location on the right side of the uterus whereas, 2.4% had a chorionic villi /placenta location to the left of the uterus. On the other hand, 97.5% of female fetuses had a chorionic villi /placenta location to the left of the uterus whereas, 2.7% had their chorionic villi /placenta located to the right of the uterus.»



Based on the images of ultrasound pictures discussed in the research report, it looks like one must look at it from the mother’s point of view— her real RIGHT or real LEFT part of her uterus. 

Since the study was done with patients at 6 weeks pregnancy after LMP, it will be better to compare your own U/S (ultrasound) image at 6 weeks using transvaginal ultrasonography for better images.

I guess the reason behind this is to see the location of the uterus where the fetus actually implanted. The baby and placenta grow bigger faster after six weeks and the view we can obtain beyond six weeks may not be as clear and accurate.



View this ultrasound picture indicated in the study: FIGURE image_gallery

«6 weeks fetus with posterior right lateral color flow marking the chorionic villi blood flow is showing in this transverse ultrasound image. This was proven a male fetus after delivery.»

NOTE that while image may show the baby on the left side, his actual position is on the right side of the mother’s uterus:



View this ultrasound picture indicated in the studyimage_gallery

«Six weeks fetus with left lateral chorionic blood flow, was a proven a female fetus after delivery.»

NOTE that while the image may show the baby to be on the right side of the picture, her actual position is on the left side of the mother’s uterus:


Personally, I think it is important to note that the findings are just based on STATISTICAL PROBABILITY, based on the big sample studied. More scientific basis will have yet to be founded on solid ground to be conclusive and dependable.

No way should this take the place of an ultrasound done in the second and third trimester to determine sex of the baby. Perhaps we can just consider our own individual case as part of our own experiment to test if this method can be true, just for fun—IF we so choose.



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Ultrasound: Purpose, Procedure, and Preparation

An ultrasound scan is a medical test that uses high-frequency sound waves to capture live images from the inside of your body. It’s also known as sonography.

The technology is similar to that used by sonar and radar, which help the military detect planes and ships. An ultrasound allows your doctor to see problems with organs, vessels, and tissues without needing to make an incision.

Unlike other imaging techniques, ultrasound uses no radiation. For this reason, it’s the preferred method for viewing a developing fetus during pregnancy.

Most people associate ultrasound scans with pregnancy. These scans can provide an expectant mother with the first view of her unborn child. However, the test has many other uses.

Your doctor may order an ultrasound if you’re having pain, swelling, or other symptoms that require an internal view of your organs. An ultrasound can provide a view of the:

  • bladder
  • brain (in infants)
  • eyes
  • gallbladder
  • kidneys
  • liver
  • ovaries
  • pancreas
  • spleen
  • thyroid
  • testicles
  • uterus
  • blood vessels

An ultrasound is also a helpful way to guide surgeons’ movements during certain medical procedures, such as biopsies.

The steps you will take to prepare for an ultrasound will depend on the area or organ that is being examined.

Your doctor may tell you to fast for eight to 12 hours before your ultrasound, especially if your abdomen is being examined. Undigested food can block the sound waves, making it difficult for the technician to get a clear picture.

For an examination of the gallbladder, liver, pancreas, or spleen, you may be told to eat a fat-free meal the evening before your test and then to fast until the procedure. However, you can continue to drink water and take any medications as instructed. For other examinations, you may be asked to drink a lot of water and to hold your urine so that your bladder is full and better visualized.

Be sure to tell your doctor about any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or herbal supplements that you take before the exam.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and ask any questions you may have before the procedure.

An ultrasound carries minimal risks. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, ultrasounds use no radiation. For this reason, they are the preferred method for examining a developing fetus during pregnancy.

Before the exam, you will change into a hospital gown. You will most likely be lying down on a table with a section of your body exposed for the test.

An ultrasound technician, called a sonographer, will apply a special lubricating jelly to your skin. This prevents friction so they can rub the ultrasound transducer on your skin. The transducer has a similar appearance to a microphone. The jelly also helps transmit the sound waves.

The transducer sends high-frequency sound waves through your body. The waves echo as they hit a dense object, such as an organ or bone. Those echoes are then reflected back into a computer. The sound waves are at too high of a pitch for the human ear to hear. They form a picture that can be interpreted by the doctor.

Depending on the area being examined, you may need to change positions so the technician can have better access.

After the procedure, the gel will be cleaned off of your skin. The whole procedure typically lasts less than 30 minutes, depending on the area being examined. You will be free to go about your normal activities after the procedure has finished.

Following the exam, your doctor will review the images and check for any abnormalities. They will call you to discuss the findings, or to schedule a follow-up appointment. Should anything abnormal turn up on the ultrasound, you may need to undergo other diagnostic techniques, such as a CT scan, MRI, or a biopsy sample of tissue depending on the area examined. If your doctor is able to make a diagnosis of your condition based on your ultrasound, they may begin your treatment immediately.

How does ultrasound work? | Uses of ultrasound

by Chris Woodford. Last updated: March 7, 2018.

You often hear people using the phrase
«as blind as a bat»—but if
bats could talk, would they criticize us for being «as deaf as a
human»? We may think we’re good at hearing things but our ears can
detect only a relatively narrow band of frequencies (sounds of
pitch) centered on the human voice—the sound we most need to hear.
Bats, moths, dolphins, and various other creatures can hear much higher
frequencies of sound beyond the range of human hearing, which is known
as ultrasound. Since scientists discovered
ultrasound, they
have found all kinds of important uses for it, from medical diagnosis
to materials testing and scientific research. Let’s take a closer look
at ultrasound and how it works.

Photo: An ultrasound (echocardiograph) image of
a beating human
heart. NASA (the US space agency) uses this equipment to study the
effects of space travel on astronauts.
Photo courtesy of NASA
Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA-MSFC).

What is ultrasound?

Human ears can hear sound waves that vibrate in the range from about
20 times a second (a deep rumbling noise) to about 20,000 times a
second (a high-pitched whistling). (Children can generally hear
higher-pitched sounds than their parents, because our ability to hear
high frequencies gets worse as we get older.)
Speaking more scientifically, we could say that the
sounds we can perceive have a frequency ranging from 20–20,000 hertz
(Hz). A hertz is a measurement of how often
something vibrates and 1 Hz
is equal to one vibration each second. The human voice makes sounds
ranging from a few hundred hertz to a few thousand hertz.

Suppose you could somehow hit a drum-skin so often that it vibrated
more than 20,000 times per second. You might be able to see the skin
vibrating (just), but you certainly couldn’t hear it. No matter how
hard you hit the drum, you wouldn’t hear a sound. The drum would still
be transmitting sound waves, but your ears wouldn’t be able to
recognize them. Bats, dogs, dolphins, and moths might well hear them,
however. Sounds this like, with frequencies beyond the range of human
hearing, are examples of ultrasound.

Photo: Bats like this «see» with sound instead
of light. They navigate by sending out beams of ultrasound and
listening for the echoes—a technique called echolocation. Photo of big brown bat
(Eptesicus fuscus) by Don Pfitzer, courtesy of US Fish
& Wildlife Service.

Note: You might it useful to read our article about sound before you read on.

(Interestingly, just as there is sound that is too high-pitched for
us to hear, so there are also
sounds that are too low-pitched for our ears. These are called infrasound. The seismic waves that we know as
earthquakes are examples. We need special detectors to know when
earthquakes have happened, because we can’t always hear or feel them.)

Ultrasound waves have higher frequencies than normal sound waves,
but they also have shorter wavelengths. In
other words, the distance
between one ultrasound wave traveling through the air and the one
following on behind it is much shorter than in a normal sound wave.
This has an important practical effect: ultrasound waves reflect
back from things much better than ordinary sound waves, and that makes
them very useful indeed.

How is ultrasound made?

It’s impossible for us to make ultrasound the same way we make
normal sounds—by hitting and blowing things, as we do, for example, in
musical instruments. That’s because we can’t hit and blow things fast
enough. But we can make ultrasound using electrical
equipment that
vibrates with an extremely high frequency. Crystals of some materials
(such as quartz) vibrate very fast
when you pass electricity through
them—an effect called piezoelectricity. As
they vibrate, they push and pull the air around them, producing ultrasound waves. Devices
that produce ultrasound waves using piezoelectricity are known as
piezoelectric transducers. Piezoelectric
crystals also work in
the reverse way: if ultrasound waves traveling through the air happen
to collide with a piezoelectric crystal, they squeeze its surface very
slightly, causing a brief burst of electricity to flow through it. So,
if you wire up a piezoelectric crystal to an electric meter, you get
an instant ultrasound detector.

Artwork: How ultrasound is made for cleaning things. 1) A high-frequency alternating electricity supply sends power to three piezoelectric transducers (2). These jiggle about at ultrasonic frequencies, sending their vibrations to a thin, quartz glass plate (3), which transmits waves (4) into a basin filled with fluid (5) into which you place the objects to be cleaned.

Ultrasound waves can be produced
using magnetism instead of
electricity. Just as piezoelectric crystals produce ultrasound waves in
response to electricity, so there are other crystals that make
ultrasound in response to magnetism. These are called magnetostrictive
crystals and the transducers that use them are called magnetostrictive
transducers. (The magnetive effect is known as magnetostriction.)

What is ultrasound used for?

Using ultrasound for practical purposes
is sometimes called ultrasonics—and it’s
used for everything from industrial welding and
drilling to producing homogenized milk and photographic film.

Medical ultrasound scanning

Photo: This pregnant woman is watching an ultrasound scan
of the baby developing in her womb. Note the ultrasound scanner (bottom right) being
moved slowly across her abdomen, and the monitor (left) showing the picture of her child.
Photo by Scherrie K. Gates courtesy of Defense Imagery.

Probably the best known example of ultrasonics is medical testing.
To save having to open up your body to detect an illness, doctors can
simply run an ultrasound scanner over your skin to see inside. The
scanner probe often looks a bit like a computer mouse.
It has a built in transducer that beams harmless, ultrasound waves down into your body. As the waves
travel through the different bones and tissues, they reflect back up
again. The same transducer (or a separate one alongside) receives the
reflected waves and a computer attached to the scanner uses them to
draw a detailed picture of what’s happening inside you on a screen.
Scans of fetuses (unborn babies developing in the womb) are made this

Photo: A closeup of a small ultrasound probe. Photo by Rafael Martie courtesy of US Navy.

Nondestructive testing

Similar equipment is used to test for flaws in machines such as
airplane jet engines. If there’s a crack
deep inside a metal,
inspecting it from the inside won’t reveal the problem. But if you run
an ultrasound scanner over the outside of the metal, the crack inside
will disturb and reflect back some of the ultrasound waves—so the
defect will
show up on your testing monitor. Inspecting materials this way is
sometimes known as nondestructive testing,
because you don’t
have to damage or take things apart to check them out.

Photo: Examining an airplane engine using
ultrasonic, non-destructive testing. The inspector is moving an
ultrasound probe
over an airplane component with her right hand. She is
adjusting the ultrasound beam with her left hand at the same time.
Photo by Michelle Michaud courtesy of US Air Force.

High-power ultrasound

Relatively low-strength ultrasound waves are used for medical scans
and non-destructive testing. Much stronger ultrasound waves have very
different uses. If you have a painful kidney stone, firing powerful
ultrasound waves from outside your body can make the stone vibrate and
break apart. Strong ultrasound waves are sometimes also used to destroy
cancer tumors and brain lesions (damaged regions of the brain). In a
similar way, ultrasound waves can be used to clean jewelry, watches,
false teeth, and a wide range of machine parts that may be too
difficult (or inaccessible) to clean in other ways.


Another popular use for ultrasonics is in ships, both for navigation
and for locating objects underwater. Sound travels faster through water than through air, which is very helpful
because light hardly travels through water at all. Most people know
that whales can use low-frequency sound to communicate across entire oceans.
Submarines use a similar trick with a
type of navigation called sonar
(sound navigation and ranging), which is a bit like an underwater
equivalent of radar.

Photo: It takes skill and concentration to monitor a sonar scanning screen. This system is onboard the ship USS Gladiator and is being used to detect mines. Photo by Peter D. Lawlor courtesy of US Navy.

How does it work? When a submarine is deep beneath the surface, it can find its way by sending out bleeps of sound and listening for the
echoes—just like a bat using echolocation. By timing how long it takes
for the echoes to come back, a submarine’s navigator can figure out if there are any other ships,
submarines, or other obstacles nearby. Sonar is also used by ships to calculate
how deep the sea is (or draw a map of the seabed) by firing sound beams
straight downward. This technique is known as echo

Side-scan sonar

Photo: A typical side-scan sonar towfish. This one uses ultrasound at a frequency of 600 kHz, which is well above the limit of human hearing. Here, it’s being hooked up to equipment onboard a scientific research ship before being lowered into the water to be dragged alongside. Photo by John F. Williams courtesy of US Navy.

Different sonar systems
use a very wide range of sound frequencies, from very low infrasound
(which may cause problems for whales and other sea creatures),
through audible sound (the classic «ping» noise you hear in wartime submarines
in the movies), right up to very high ultrasound (typically used in
fish-location systems used by, among others, industrial trawlers). High-frequency
sounds are used in side-scan sonar, in which a small, torpedo-like scanning unit
called a towfish is dragged behind a ship and sends out wide sonar beams to either side. The beams leave the towfish at angles and reflect back again, producing a profile of a wide area of the sea (and seabed) beneath.
Side-scan sonar is used in marine archeology (to locate wrecks on the seabed), ocean research, and plain-old fishing.
Different fish reflect sound to a different extent and, with skill and experience, it’s possible to figure out from the sonar beam not only which fish are present but how many there are in a certain area. Generally, the higher the sound frequency used, the more detail that shows up, but the shorter the range over which it’s effective; higher frequencies are best for detailed work in small areas of relatively shallow
water, while lower frequencies are needed for deeper water or long-range detection.

How Ultrasound Is Used for Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause a variety of symptoms that can make it difficult to go about your daily activities. These symptoms can include:

  • pain
  • stiffness
  • inflammation
  • swelling

Current treatments include over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, immunosuppressants, corticosteroids, and other drugs. These drugs may help ease your symptoms and slow down the progression of your RA. They may also bring side effects.

As researchers continue to look for alternative treatments, some have found evidence that ultrasound therapy may be helpful. Ultrasound imaging can also help your doctor watch for changes in your disease.

Ultrasound is used to create pictures of structures inside your body. During an ultrasound, your doctor or technician uses a transducer to send a stream of high-frequency sound waves into your body. These waves bounce off your organs, muscles, and tissues. They create echoes that are converted into images on a computer.

Ultrasound therapy may also be used to treat certain conditions. For example, ultrasound waves may help to:

  • relieve pain
  • calm inflammation
  • encourage healing in tissues

According to an article published in the Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, research on the use of ultrasound therapy for easing pain and inflammation began in the 1920s. As early as 1930, ultrasound therapy was reportedly used to treat sciatica. Since then, studies have produced mixed results.

One thing is certain — ultrasound can produce heat in deep tissues. This may have some benefits. For example, it may:

  • have an internal massage effect
  • help increase circulation
  • encourage healing

Your doctor or rehabilitation therapist may use ultrasound technology in different ways. For example, they might use ultrasound therapy to help treat symptoms of RA. They may also use ultrasound imaging to help track your disease.

Reducing pain and inflammation

Therapists sometimes use ultrasound therapy to help reduce inflammation and pain. In 2002, researchers published a study in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on ultrasound therapy in people with RA. The study suggests that when ultrasound is applied to your hands, it may help increase your grip strength. It may also help:

  • improve wrist flexibility
  • decrease morning stiffness
  • reduce the number of swollen and painful joints

Despite these results, more research is needed on the use of ultrasound therapy for RA. High-quality clinical trials on the subject are lacking.

Promoting bone healing

In 2009, researchers published a study in the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine on ultrasound therapy and bone healing. The researchers reviewed older and new literature findings. Some studies showed links between ultrasound and bone healing.

The authors didn’t focus specifically on RA. But the bone-healing potential of ultrasound therapy might help people who experience bone erosion or other deformities as a complication of RA.

The authors also found that ultrasound therapy was a safe procedure. It poses no risk of serious complications or side effects.

Monitoring disease progression

Your doctor may also use ultrasound imaging to help track your condition. In some cases, your RA symptoms may clear, leading you to believe that your condition is in remission. As a result, your doctor may lower your RA treatments. If your condition isn’t actually in remission, this can have long-term negative consequences.

Ultrasound imaging can detect inflammation in your joints, even if you don’t have noticeable symptoms. This can help your doctor form an accurate picture of your condition. This can help them provide better treatment.

Several ultrasound therapy devices are available for home use. If you’re interested in at-home ultrasound therapy, look for an FDA-approved unit from a company accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC).

Ultrasound therapy devices vary in power output, frequency, and other features. Ask your therapist for advice on which device would be best for you. While ultrasound therapy is considered safe, its effectiveness may vary depending on the device you use.

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