Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to image the inside of the body. The advantage is that the test uses no radiation. Ultrasound is useful for diagnosis of many medical conditions throughout the body. Ultrasound is performed by a specially trained technologist and interpreted by a radiology doctor.
The radiology doctor also ensures that the test is of adequate quality. Ultrasound is highly dependent on the skill and attentiveness of the technologist doing the exam. An ultrasound technologist needs to be able to recognize abnormalities, artifacts, and variants in normal anatomy. A technologist must recognize and demonstrate normal structures and abnormalities to the radiologist.
An ultrasound test will be standard for each patient. That is, the same organs and structures will be shown for each test . These structures must be shown clearly in order for the radiologist to have the most confidence in excluding any abnormalities, Any abnormalities that the technologist see are measured and pictures are taken and sent.
Sometimes abnormalities seen by the technologist during the live scan are better demonstrated than on the static pictures sent to the radiologist. An abnormality may be more convincing on the live scan than on the static pictures. Some technologists will send a cine clip or little movie of what they are seeing during the real time scan.
The radiologist interprets the scan some time after the scan is done. The patient has already left most of the time. Sometimes the radiologist wants a closer look at the abnormality. He wants to be in the room while the scan is happening. Other times the radiologist may see something in a normal structure and wants to make sure that organ or structure is truly normal.
In these cases, the radiologist may call the patient back for additional imaging. This does not necessarily mean that something is dangerous or definitely abnormal. Just that something needs clarification. This happens fairly rarely in practice. Most technologists learn want radiologists need to see for a confident diagnosis. They know what is needed to demonstrate a structure as normal.
A call back for additional ultrasound images is therefore rare but needed because the radiologist wants to clarify something with more images. Perhaps he saw something on the pictures and he’s not sure if it’s a real abnormality. Other times it may be something in a normal structure that he’s not sure about. Ultrasound pictures can be poor in heavy patients or those with a lot of bowel gas. Rarely, something is omitted by the technologist.