Ultrasonography is an imaging technique that uses very-high-frequency sound waves to visualize structures in the human body. The technology is relatively inexpensive, portable, and poses no known risks to patients. In addition, ultrasound does not require an IV or contrast to be administered. This allows for a painless procedure that is well tolerated by patients. Because of these many advantages, ultrasound has become a widely used diagnostic tool over the last 50 years.
The anatomy of the head and neck is very amenable to ultrasound examination. The technique is particularly useful for imaging of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, evaluation of salivary gland disorders, and investigation of neck masses, especially in the pediatric population. In the event that abnormal lesions are found in any of these locations, the ultrasound can be used to guide a small needle so that a pinpoint biopsy can be obtained, increasing accurate diagnostic results. Ultrasound-guided biopsies often allow surgeons to obtain important diagnostic information without taking their patients to the operating room for a potentially unnecessary open biopsy procedure.