The Major Uses of Ultrasound Technology

Ultrasound has been used in a variety of clinical settings, including obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology and cancer detection. The main advantage of ultrasound is that certain structures can be observed without using radiation. Ultrasound can also be done much faster than X-rays or other radiographic techniques. Here is a short list of some uses for ultrasound:

Obstetrics and Gynecology

  • measuring the size of the fetus to determine the due date
  • determining the position of the fetus to see if it is in the normal head down position or breech
  • checking the position of the placenta to see if it is improperly developing over the opening to the uterus (cervix)
  • seeing the number of fetuses in the uterus
  • checking the sex of the baby (if the genital area can be clearly seen)
  • checking the fetus’s growth rate by making many measurements over time
  • detecting ectopic pregnancy, the life-threatening situation in which the baby is implanted in the mother’s Fallopian tubes instead of in the uterus
  • determining whether there is an appropriate amount of amniotic fluid cushioning the baby
  • monitoring the baby during specialized procedures – ultrasound has been helpful in seeing and avoiding the baby during amniocentesis (sampling of the amniotic fluid with a needle for genetic testing). Years ago, doctors use to perform this procedure blindly; however, with accompanying use of ultrasound, the risks of this procedure have dropped dramatically.
  • seeing tumors of the ovary and breast


  • seeing the inside of the heart to identify abnormal structures or functions
  • measuring blood flow through the heart and major blood vessel


  • measuring blood flow through the kidney
  • seeing kidney stones
  • detecting prostate cancer early

The use of ultrasound machines can be found in most areas of medical specialties.