Ultrasound is an imaging technique in which deep structures of the body can be visualised by recording echoes of ultrasonic waves directed into the tissues. Because you get a moving image with ultrasound you can see precisely how the body is functioning in a safe and non-invasive way. In particular we can check the size, structure and appearance of internal organs to see how each one is working in action. With the heart, we can use ultrasound to watch it beating, look at its size and see if the valves are functioning correctly. With the intestines, we can assess if muscles are contracting properly as part of the body’s mechanisms for processing food. Ultrasound is ideal for getting a close look at small organs (kidneys, liver and spleen) and to check for foreign structures in the chest. Images can be frozen and then printed from the computer to provide a positive record of the examination. Ultrasound may be used in conjunction with X-ray to give a full picture of what might be wrong – some problems are more apparent with ultrasound than X-ray and vice versa.

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