Benefits vs risks

  • Most ultrasound imaging is non-invasive (there are no needles nor injections) and usually painless.
  • Ultrasound is widely available, simple to use and cheaper than other imaging methods.
  • With ultrasound imaging, there is not ionising radiation.
  • Ultrasound imaging gives a clear image of soft tissues which can not be seen well in x-ray images.
  • Ultrasound is most commonly used for monitoring pregnant women and unborn children.
  • Ultrasound uses live imaging technique and due to that is a good instrument for conducting the least invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and needle aspirations.


  • Standard diagnostic ultrasound has no known adverse effects on humans.

Ultrasound limitations

Ultrasound interferes with air and gases and because of that, ultrasound is not an ideal technique for imaging intestines or the organs obstructed by the intestines. In majority of such cases, barium screening, CT imaging and MRI are selected.

It is more difficult to perform ultrasound imaging on larger patients because the tissue scatters (weakens) sound waves as they pass deeper into the body.

Ultrasound is difficult to penetrate into the bones and therefore shows only the outer surface of bone structures, but not what is in them. To show internal structures of bones or specific joints, other imaging techniques such as MIR are usually used.

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