Glossary of Terms

The following terms and definitions are for informational/educational purposes only, and are not intended to be used in the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or condition.

Bedside Ultrasound

An ultrasound examination performed at patient bedside by the treating physician to answer specific clinical questions in real time. Although bedside ultrasound originated in the E.R. it has become considerably more common in other hospital units for both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. (also see Point-of-Care Ultrasound)

Bony Prominences

Parts of the body with limited subcutaneous tissue over bone, examples of which include the heels, iliac crests, and sacrum, and are more prone to pressure ulceration than more padded body parts.

Breast Ultrasound

Often used as a follow-up test after an abnormal finding on a mammogram, breast MRI or clinical breast exam, and if a needle biopsy is needed, may also be used to help guide the procedure.

Cosmetic HIFU

Also known as Ultherapy®, stimulates the deep supporting structures of the facial skin and neck, leading to growth of new collagen that lifts and tightens the skin over time, results of which are similar to that of a face lift without invasive surgery or injections.

Diagnostic Ultrasound

A procedure utilizing high frequency sound waves to visualize inside the body. This technology is used to assist in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions including, but not limited to, arterial stenosis, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary artery hypertension, gallbladder infection or gallstones, tumors, breast cancer, abdominal aortic aneurysms, abscesses, organ damage (as, for example, that which follows an illness), and is also used to help physicians evaluate symptoms such as pain, swelling and infection.


Using the reflections of high-frequency sound waves to construct an image of a body organ (a sonogram); commonly used to observe fetal growth or study bodily organs.

Endocavity Ultrasound Probe Cover / Endocavity Transducer Cover

For internal ultrasound procedures, the non-irritating, non-sensitizing and non-latex, single-use ultrasound probe cover /transducer probe cover such as the Eclipse® Probe Cover-Latex-Free protects against contamination through handling or the environment.

Esophageal Ultrasound

Also referred to as endoscopic ultrasound and an adjunct to standard endoscopy, this procedure provides a detailed view of the layers of the esophageal wall in order to diagnose abnormalities that are the cause of motility disorders, or abnormalities that are of a cancerous nature that may affect the musculature and nerves that control the esophagus.

Handheld Ultrasound

As an adjunct to the physical exam, handheld ultrasound enables physicians to make diagnoses during clinical examinations of the abdomen, pelvis, and peripheral vascular system. Handheld ultrasound is also employed in obstetric and cardiac examinations, and is used to perform preliminary screenings to determine if a more extensive ultrasound or another diagnostic test is indicated.

Hand/Wrist Ultrasound

Ultrasound in which ultra-high frequency transducers and disposable standoff such as Aquaflex® Ultrasound Gel Pad are used to evaluate tendon injuries and assess the major ligaments and the retinacula of the wrist and hand.

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

A technique for treating localized prostate cancer that entails the physician inserting an ultrasound probe coated with a bacteriostatic, non-irritating gel into the rectum, then focusing beams of sound waves on cancerous portions of the gland.

JCAHO/Gel Warmer

Gel warmer with a temperature control mechanism that can be incorporated into a JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) compliant hospital warming protocol. The Thermasonic® Gel Warmer is available in three designs, including single bottle and two multi-bottle warmers that heat, then consistently monitor temperature.

Laser Hair Removal

The process of removing unwanted hair by means of exposure to pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicle. Matching a specific wavelength of light and pulse duration produces an optimal effect on targeted tissue while leaving surrounding tissue minimally affected.

Laser Pigment Removal

A procedure usually lasting between 30-45 minutes in which hyperpigmentation of the skin i.e. dark spots due to excess melanin production is treated and removed. Laser hyperpigmentation removal generally calls for multiple treatments until the desired outcome is achieved.

Latex-Free (Non-latex) Probe Cover / Latex-Free (Non-Latex) Transducer Cover

Non-irritating, non-sensitizing and latex-free single-use probe cover / transducer cover such as the the Eclipse® Probe Cover-Latex-Free, for endocavity ultrasound procedures.

Lesion Removal

For suspicious breast lesions, ultrasound is an adjunct to biopsy and mammograms in the diagnosis of breast cancer. Removal modalities for skin lesions include shave excision and simple scissor excision (for lesions that rise above skin level), full thickness skin excision (for lesions in the deeper levels of the skin down to the fatty layer), curettage and electrodesiccation (for superficial lesions that do not require full thickness excision), laser excision (for benign lesions, warts, moles, sunspots, hair, spider veins, tattoos) cryotherapy (for warts, actinic keratosis and solar keratosis) and Mohs surgery (skin cancer).

Medical Ultrasound

Using sound waves at the high frequency of over 20 kHz (vibrations per second), medical ultrasound has many applications including fetal monitoring, imaging of internal organs, and, at an extremely high frequency, the cleaning of dental and surgical instruments.

Muscular Skeletal Ultrasound (MSK)

Uses sound waves to produce images of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints throughout the body to help diagnose sprains, strains, tears and other soft tissue conditions.

Nerve Block

Any deliberate, short term interruption of signals traveling along a nerve involving the injection of an anesthetic, a corticosteroid and other agents onto or near a nerve.

OB/GYN Ultrasound

In obstetrics, a diagnostic ultrasound is used visualize, and determine the condition of, a pregnant woman and her fetus. Gynecological (GYN) ultrasound refers to the use of sonography to visualize organs found within the female pelvis such as the uterus and ovaries.

Physical Therapy Ultrasound

Utilizes sound waves to generate heat that helps to increase circulation and loosen up tight joints or muscles, allowing them to respond better to stretch and to the manual techniques of the practitioner. Non-thermal effects of ultrasound can be helpful in reducing inflammation and swelling in cases of acute injuries.

Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS)

The use of a portable ultrasound unit at a patient's bedside for diagnostic (such as sign or symptom-based examination) or therapeutic (such as image-guidance) ultrasound procedures.

Portable Ultrasound

Also referred to as compact ultrasound, these devices can be broadly split into three categories: laptop (weighing between ten and fourteen pounds), hand-carried (weighing between five and eight pounds), and hand-held or hand-operated systems weighing less than one pound. They are designed to capture a fast and accurate reading, thus enabling rapid identification of a sudden and possibly life-threatening condition in a patient.

Pre-Gelled Probe Cover / Pre-Gelled Transducer Cover

Single-use, disposable probe cover / transducer cover that is non-sterile, latex-free, and pre-gelled inside, as for example, the Eclipse® Probe Cover-Latex-Free, for endocavity ultrasound procedures.

Prostate Ultrasound

A diagnostic ultrasound performed to check the size, location, and shape of the prostate gland and nearby structures, and may be used to look for signs of cancer. It is often the next step after a finding of elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) during a blood test. Prostate/rectal ultrasound may be used to stage and watch treatment progress of rectal cancer. It is also used to look at the rectum for other problems. Diagnostic prostate/rectal ultrasounds are also performed in order to obtain tissue for biopsy. Therapeutic prostate ultrasound may be used to help place radiation "seeds" to treat prostate cancer.

Regional Anesthesia

With the guidance of ultrasound, anesthesia is injected near a nerve cluster to numb only the area of the body that requires surgery. Types of regional anesthesia include the spinal and epidural block, the brachial plexus block, the femoral nerve block and the sciatic and popliteal block.

Single-Use Transducer Gel (non-sterile)

Bacteriostatic ultrasound transducer gel, such as Aquasonic® 100 Ultrasound Transmission Gel in 20g Single-Use Packettes designed for one-time, individual use to prevent cross-contamination between patients.

Sterile Ultrasound

Ultrasound during invasive procedures such as ultrasound-guided biopsy, procedures with mucosal contact, procedures with mucosal contact where biopsy is not planned but any possible added bioburden would be undesirable or mucosal trauma is likely, e.g. transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) procedures, transvaginal ultrasound procedures without biopsy, and transrectal ultrasound procedures without biopsy.

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Therapeutic Ultrasound: Therapeutic ultrasound is in the frequency range of about 0.8-3.0 MHz. The sound waves that pass through the skin cause a vibration of the local tissues that can cause a deep heating locally, though usually no sensation of heat will be felt by the patient. In situations where a heating effect is not desirable, such as a fresh injury with acute inflammation, the ultrasound can be pulsed rather than continuously transmitted. Therapeutic ultrasound increases tissue relaxation, increases local blood flow which helps reduce swelling and chronic inflammation, and at its highest intensity, facilitates scar tissue breakdown. Ultrasound can also be used to non-invasively administer sub-cutaneous medication for patients who are uncomfortable with injections.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

A procedure during which the ultrasound transducer is covered with a probe cover such as the Eclipse® or the Eclipse 3D® Probe Covers Latex-Free, then covered with ultrasound gel e.g. Sterile Aquasonic® 100 Ultrasound Transmission Gel and is placed inside the vagina in order to diagnose abnormal growths i.e. cysts and fibroids, abnormal vaginal bleeding and menstrual problems, ectopic pregnancy and pelvic pain, and certain types of infertility.

Ultrasound Cover / Ultrasound Probe Cover / Ultrasound Transducer Cover

Single use covers such as the rolled, latex, non-sterile Ultra Cover Natural Latex Probe Cover and the latex-free, non-sterile Eclipse® Probe Cover Latex-Free , that protect endocavity and surface ultrasound probes / transducers from the risk of contamination through handling or the environment.

Ultrasound Gel Cross-Contamination

Occurs when ultrasound transducer gel becomes contaminated with bacteria and, due to a variety of organisms and procedures, leads to outbreaks of infection among patients. Use of sterile products such as Sterile Aquasonic® 100 Ultrasound Transmission Gel, in conjunction with adherence to sterilization guidelines, or Aquasonic® 100 Ultrasound Transmission Gel Single-Use Packette (for non-sterile procedures), may reduce cross contamination.

Ultrasound Gel Warmer

For patient comfort, a device designed to heat ultrasound gel without compromising its performance and viscosity. The Thermasonic® Gel Warmer contains a temperature sensor to consistently monitor function, and a thermal cutoff to protect against overheating.

Ultrasound Guided Biopsy

An outpatient procedure to obtain a tissue sample of an abnormality discovered on a radiology scan. This is a type of image-guided biopsy that combines the use of ultrasound with either a fine needle aspiration or core needle biopsy.

Ultrasound Guided Peripheral IntraVenous (UGPIV)

Ultrasound guidance for difficult intravenous access patients. The procedure utilizes ultrasound to provide a live image of the vessel while obtaining peripheral I.V. access. UGPIV may help improve IV success rates, decrease the number of percutaneous punctures and decrease the time required to achieve intravenous access.

Ultrasound Pain Therapy

Therapeutic ultrasound that helps to decrease pain through the reduction of swelling and edema.

Vaginal/Rectal Probe Covers

Disposable barrier membranes, such as Eclipse® Probe Cover-Latex-Free and Eclipse 3D Probe Covers , that cover the head and part of the body of endocavity ultrasound transducers.

Vascular Access Procedure

An ultrasound and x-ray guided procedure in which a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel to allow blood to be drawn from, or medication to be delivered to, a patient's bloodstream over an extended period.

Water Bath Ultrasound

A technique in which an extremity is scanned while submerged in a bath of water and the probe is not placed directly on the skin. The water-bath imaging technique using a high-frequency transducer and standoff such as Aquaflex® Ultrasound Gel Pad may be preferable when the area being scanned is too tender for the patient to tolerate direct contact with the transducer.