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Ultrasound is becoming increasingly important in medicine both as a diagnostic tool, as a therapeutic modality and surgery. Ultrasonic waves travel at similar velocities (about 1500 m s-1) in most biological tissues, and are absorbed at a rate of about 1 dB cm-1 MHz-1. It leads to thermal effects in biological systems. Diagnostic imaging using ultrasound finds applications in all tissues. Although u1trasound has been used in medicine since the 1930's, it is only recently that these techniques have been widely used and their potential fully recognized. Basically, it's a high-frequency sound wave medical test which capture live images inside your body. Also, known as Sonography. It gives more visibility to doctors to look inside your body to see problems with organs, vessels and tissues without needing to make an incision. Diagnostic ultrasound imaging depends on the computerized analysis of reflected ultrasound waves, which non- invasively build up fine images of internal body structures. The resolution attainable is higher with shorter wavelengths, with the wavelength being inversely proportional to the frequency.

Types Of Ultrasound Imaging

Four different kinds of ultrasound images are available. Based on the purpose of the test and the body part being investigated, doctor makes the choice from the following available imaging types:

2D Ultrasound Imaging :

2D ultrasound imaging is generally used for obstetric purposes. 2 dimensional images of inside of a person?s body can be produced with this imaging. Images generated using this imaging are black and white in color. This imaging is typically used to confirm pregnancy, to estimate the age of gestation and to check the position of the placenta.

3D Ultrasound Imaging :

This imaging techniques overcomes the shortcomings of its predecessor. Representation of only a thin plate of a specific angle makes 2D images prone to incorrect diagnosis. The main advantages of 3D imaging are faster examination, far better quality of images and decrease in waiting time for patients. This imaging is typically used in Obstetrics, fetal cardiac, gynecology, internal medicine etc.

4D Ultrasound Imaging :

In 4D imaging, the fourth dimension .i.e. time is added to the images taken in 3D and as a result of which they appear to be moving. This imaging method produces the most realistic images of them all.

Doppler Ultrasound Imaging :

In this method blood flow in the blood vessels is estimated with the help of high frequency sound waves. This method estimates the speed of blood flow. This method is highly useful in diagnosing cardiovascular diseases and conditions like clotting of blood etc. by helping to identify blocked arteries. This Doppler ultrasound imaging has few more terminologies as given below:

Color Doppler :

This uses a wide choice of colors to visualize blood flow measurements embed them within a conventional 2d ultrasound of tissues and structures. This provides a more pronounced representation of blood flow speed and direction than is the case with traditional grayscale images.

Power Doppler :

It provides color imaging of more sensitive and detailed blood flow measurements than regular color Doppler does. This method can sometimes be used to achieve the images in situations which are inaccessible with Color Doppler. However it has a limitation that it can?t detect the direction of blood flow.

Common Ultrasound Tests


Few of the main ultrasound tests and their description is following:

Abdominal Ultrasound :

This is a kind of imaging test. This ultrasound is done to look at the organs in the abdomen which includes Kidneys, pancreas, spleen and gallbladder. This ultrasound can also examine blood vessels (such as vena cava and aorta) which leads to some of the organs mentioned above.

Cardiac Ultrasound :

This ultrasound is also termed as Echocardiography. This image test is done to see how the blood flows through the heart and blood vessels. It can show the size, shape and motion of the heart. This ultrasound is done to look for injuries in heart valves or sac around the heart.

Breast Ultrasound :

In this imaging test, pictures of internal structure of the breast are produced using sound waves. This is done to diagnose any abnormalities like breast lumps which a doctor might have found during breast MRI or physical exam.

Transvaginal Ultrasound :

This pelvic ultrasound is used to examine female reproductive organs. Organs like uterus, ovaries, cervix, vagina, fellopians and tubes are examined using this ultrasound. The term ?Transvaginal? means ?through the vagina?. This is also known as endovaginal ultrasound.

Thyroid Ultrasound :

Pictures of thyroid gland which is present within the neck are produced using thyroid ultrasound. This test is used for the evaluation of lumps which might have been found during routine physical exam.

Renal Ultrasound :

In this test, sound waves are used to produce images of the kidneys, uterus and bladder. This test is usually done to diagnose certain types of bladder or kidney problems. It can be used to test injuries to kidney, size of the kidneys etc.

Musculoskeletal Ultrasound :

Pictures of muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves throughout the body are produced using sound waves in this ultrasound. It can be used to diagnose lot of musculoskeletal conditions such as strains, sprains, arthritis trapped nerved etc.

Ultrasounds During Pregnancy


Multiple ultrasounds are required during pregnancy to analyse baby?s growth. They are following:

1.Dating and Viability Scan :

This scan is done between 6 and 9 weeks. Baby?s heartbeat can be heard during this scan. It provides the correct due date for delivery.

2.Obstetric Ultrasound :

Sound waves are used by this ultrasound to produce pictures of baby within a pregnant woman as well as mother?s uterus and ovaries. This is a preffered method for monitoring unborn baby and pregnant woman.

3.Nuchal translucency Scan (NT Scan):

This scan is also termed as early morphology scan. This scan is done between 11 weeks and 2 days and 13 weeks and six days. 12th week of pregnancy is considered as the right time to get this scan done. To increase accuracy, blood test along with this scan is done. At this stage, assessment of blood flow through uterus is done by the doctor.

4.Anomaly Scan (TIFAA or ultrasound level II scan) :

This scan is done between 18th to 20th week of pregnancy. The purpose of having this scan is to make sure the baby is free of any structural defects and the development is normal.

5.Growth Scan or fetal wellbeing scan :

This scan is done between 28th and 32nd week of pregnancy. Growth pattern of the baby is analyzed using this scan and based on the analysis, doctor can provide diet plans and prescribe blood tests if needed.

6.Growth Scan and Color Doppler Studies :

This is done between 36th and 40th week of pregnancy. This scan is useful to check: Baby?s weight and position. Fluid around the baby and if the cord is around his neck. Doppler studies are used to analyses the blood flow to baby?s vital organs.

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