In the ultrasound procedure, high-frequency sound waves are used to generate an image of the body's interior. Ultrasounds are used in a wide variety of ways. The most common example that most people are familiar with are the ultrasounds used to monitor the development of a foetus, but there are many other uses for this procedure, including diagnosis of a wide range of medical conditions. Surgeons sometimes use ultrasound technology as a way of guiding their work during operations.
In some cases, ultrasound technology is combined with other equipment to create more powerful diagnostic procedure. One example of this is the endoscopic ultrasound, which combines the ultrasound with endoscopy. This is done because the sound waves generated by ultrasound equipment are not strong enough to penetrate through several layers of skin, fat, and muscle to the stomach. To get around this problem, the ultrasound probe is attached to an endoscope, and the endoscope is inserted via the mouth through the oesophagus to the stomach. Ultrasounds work because sound waves react in various different but predictable ways when they encounter solid objects. The ultrasound probe emits sound waves and is also able to detect how the sound waves behave when they encounter body tissues such as muscle and organs. Computer equipment attached to the probe uses this information to generate images of what the probe “sees” when it's inside your body.
To prepare for an endoscopic ultrasound scan, you'll be given a light sedative to help you stay calm during the procedure. As well as this, you'll have a local anaesthetic spray applied to your throat. These measures help you stay relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. During the procedure you'll lie on your side as the endoscope is passed through your mouth and down to your stomach. Afterwards, you may need to stay in the hospital or clinic for a few hours, if you had a sedative before the procedure. It's also important to arrange for someone to pick you up and drive you home, as the sedative can affect your reaction times and make you feel drowsy for a while even after it wears off. Side effects are uncommon, but you might have a slight sore throat after the anaesthetic wears off. Sticking to a mostly liquid or soft-foods diet for a day or two will help ease the discomfort.
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