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GLOSSARY

Sonogram (ultrasound)

Ultrasound is a tool that uses sound waves to create a picture of something going on inside the body. Sonogram, on the other hand, is the picture an ultrasound generates. Ultrasound can be used to assess health or identify causes of pain or swelling in many parts of the body, including the testicles, and to examine a fetus inside the uterus.

What is a sonogram?

A sonogram is the image created by an ultrasound. Ultrasounds send out sound waves that bounce off of structures within the body, which a computer then translates into a picture. The process: a gel is rubbed onto the skin to improve acoustics, and a tool called a “transducer” that releases the sound waves is touched to the body throughout an area. The test doesn’t involve radiation and is safe and painless.

Sonograms may be used for a variety of reasons, including:

  • checking the health of a fetus
  • helping determine the reason for stomach pain
  • diagnosing cancer
  • checking kidney stones
  • looking for prostate gland disorders
  • guiding a biopsy
  • looking for internal injuries

Sonogram during pregnancy

Ultrasounds may be used at various stages of pregnancy. Typically, they’re performed at around 8 to 13 weeks unless they’re needed earlier for potential problems with the pregnancy. The images they produce can help with:

  • confirming a pregnancy
  • checking for twins or triplets
  • determining if it’s an ectopic pregnancy (where the egg is implanted outside of the uterus)
  • looking for birth defects
  • checking for problems with the uterus or placenta
  • measuring the baby’s size and position
  • determining the sex of the baby

Not all issues will be found by an ultrasound, but sonogram is still an important health monitoring tool during pregnancy.

Sonogram for male fertility: testicular ultrasound

A testicular or scrotal ultrasound can be used to examine the male reproductive organs. A doctor may ultrasound it to: 

  • Check or biopsy a lump in the testicles
  • Determine the cause of testicular pain
  • Look for damage or swelling in the testicles
  • Examine blood flow in the testicles

The sonogram may help diagnose conditions that can affect fertility, including a varicocele (enlarged veins in the scrotum), infection, testicular torsion (where the spermatic cord twists, preventing blood flow to the testicle), or tumors.

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