Can Urgent Care Do Ultrasounds?
April 23, 2018
April 23, 2018
For pregnant women, it’s not unlikely that this unfortunate question will come up: can urgent care do ultrasounds? Many cannot, as it’s rarely needed. However, some (like Rapid Med) can. If this is a question you need the answer to, here’s some information you should know.
Can Urgent Care Do Ultrasounds?
Only some urgent care centers can do ultrasounds because only some urgent care centers need to be able to do it. Ultrasounds are a versatile tool, but they are rarely needed an emergency. When they are, it is usually more of an emergency than you might think. It is important to understand what ultrasounds are and why a doctor might issue one, though. They aren’t only for pregnant women and can be a great way for a doctor to gain information about what’s going on inside your body.
If you are asked to get an ultrasound in an emergency, you shouldn’t let it concern you. Doctors work very hard to stay healthy, and they work much harder to keep you healthy. Because of this, they need to act on as much information as they can possibly game. In that way, medical care is much like poker: the more you know about the table, the better you can play it. So, when a doctor issues an ultrasound it’s not necessarily indicative of an issue. Instead, it means that the doctor needs to gain important information about you, or anyone you might be carrying with you.
What is an Ultrasound?
It might not seem to be the case, but an ultrasound is almost exactly what it sounds like. An ultrasound is a medical test that uses extremely high frequency sounds to “see” inside of your body. Also known as sonography, the easiest way to understand an ultrasound is to think of it like a bat. Bats “see” things through echo location, which is why they screech. This high-pitched screech bounces off nearby objects, and they can read that information to create an idea of what is surrounding them. Similarly, sonographers — the people administering an ultrasound — can use sounds to create an idea of what’s inside your body.
The technology is very similar to sonar and radar technology, but the negative health effects are not present. This is why a pregnant woman can safely receive an ultrasound. The sound waves have no noticeable effect on the body. During an ultrasound, the sonographer will apply a lubricating jelly to the relevant body part. Then, they rub a transducer on the affected area, which sends out the high frequency noises. The sounds are so high-pitched, though, that you won’t even hear them.
An ultrasound normally takes less than half an hour, though it sometimes requires prep. For example, a doctor might ask you to fast for 8 to 12 hours before the ultrasound. Of course, when you’re wondering “can urgent care centers do ultrasounds,” you likely won’t have the time to do any prep.
Are Ultrasounds Only For Pregnant Women?
Despite common perception, ultrasounds are not only for pregnant women. In fact, they can help to diagnose many problems. A doctor might order an ultrasound if you are experiencing pain or swelling in your bladder, eyes, gallbladder, kidneys, liver, ovaries, pancreas, spleen, thyroid, testicles, uterus, or blood vessels. Ultrasounds can help with many issues that an x-ray can’t, and are sometimes preferred over an MRI. For example, it is much healthier for young children to have brain issues diagnosed through ultrasound than an MRI.
Frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow are just a few things that you might be diagnosed with after finding out the answer to “can urgent care do ultrasounds?” Of course, these issues could all wait for your primary care physician. However, not all primary care physicians are prepared to do ultrasounds, either. Sonographers are most commonly found with gynecologists, hospitals, and orthopedists.
Why Don’t All Urgent Care Centers Do Ultrasounds?
If you need an ultrasound, you’ll likely be told before you ask questions like, “can urgent care do ultrasounds?” They are often required for checkups during pregnancy or with soft tissue problems, or to diagnose something in an emergency. Because of this, it often isn’t necessary for urgent care centers to have a sonographer on staff. There simply isn’t enough demand for it. Ultrasounds are normally routine, or an emergency, with little in-between.
That said, it is always nice for an urgent care to do ultrasounds. They can help to diagnose issues like carpal tunnel in a hurry, which are often a nuisance. They might also help to answer frantic questions about pregnancy. You shouldn’t condemn an urgent care center for not being able to do them, but make note of those that can.