What is Chest Ultrasound?
Chest ultrasound is a safe and painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the cause of unexplained pain in the chest in a non-invasive manner. In this scan, multiple images of the organs within the chest such as the lungs and heart are generated using the sound waves. This exam is also known as chest sonography.
The chest ultrasound helps doctors in examining the chest organs and detecting infections and abnormalities such as cysts or tumors, which can then be tested for cancer if needed. Doctors also use it to assess the flow of blood to chest organs and detect blockages.
The chest ultrasound is also used as a supplementary exam to verify the findings of a chest CT scan, chest X-ray, and chest MRI for diagnosis of conditions related to chest organs.
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Who Should Get a Chest Ultrasound?
Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound of the chest if you have one or more of the following ailments or symptoms:
- A cough that won’t go away
- Chest tightness or wheezing (noisy breathing)
- Coughing up mucus or blood
- Decreased ability to exercise
- Frequent chest infections
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden weight loss
- Trouble breathing
- Unexplained chest pain and fatigue
What is the Purpose of a Chest Ultrasound?
Your doctor may recommend a chest ultrasound to:
- Evaluate unusual pain in the chest with uncommon symptoms.
- Assess the presence of excess fluid in the space (pleural cavity) between the lungs and the chest.
- Evaluate the heart and its valves.
- Use it as a guide during a procedure such as a biopsy (the removal and examination of cells, tissue, or fluids from the body).
- Assess the movement of the diaphragm (a muscle wall that separates the lungs from the stomach area and helps in breathing in.).
How is Chest Ultrasound Performed?
- Before starting the chest ultrasound, you will have to take off your clothes up to your chest area.
- Depending on the area of the chest to be examined, you will be asked to either lie face-up on an examination table or sit up straight with your arms raised and your hands clasped behind your neck.
- A sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel on your chest.
- The sonographer will then take a small hand-held camera (known as probe) attached to an ultrasound screen and place it over your chest.
- The sonographer will move the probe back and forth on your chest and a moving picture will appear on the ultrasound screen.
- The sonographer will give you instructions such as ‘cough’ and ‘sniff’ during the scan to observe the movement of certain organs within the chest and will then take multiple screenshots of the moving images using the ultrasound machine.
- Once the scan is complete, you will be asked to wipe off the clear ultrasound gel from your skin.
How Long Does a Chest Ultrasound Take?
A chest ultrasound scan is usually completed within 30 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Chest Ultrasound?
No. Unlike X-ray imaging, there is no ionizing radiation exposure associated with ultrasound imaging.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Chest Ultrasound?
Standard diagnostic ultrasound is a safe procedure that uses low-power sound waves. There are no known risks.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the chest ultrasound is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Chest Ultrasound?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.