Difference between Sonogram and Ultrasound

Updated on September 14, 2017

Medical terms are always confusing. And problems arise when patients do not manage to correctly communicate to practitioners what they need, because they often use different words interchangeably. This is the case for sonogram and ultrasound. Did you know they are not the same thing? Keep reading to find out more.

Definitions

sonogram
A fetal sonogram

A sonogram is the imaging technique that uses ultrasound to make up an image. Its most common application is in gynecology, where a doctor will use it to look inside a woman’s womb and make out the shape of the baby, determine the baby’s gender, and look for proper fetus development. Other applications of sonography are in cardiology, vascular medicine, ophthalmology, and radiology. The procedure is non-invasive and does not harm the mother or the baby.

Sonography stands for “sound writing” as it uses sound waves to make out the shape of something through air, liquid, or solid. As sound travels, it moves particles around. When it comes across solids, it changes speed and it echoes back. These echoes are then processed by a computer to make up an image. Contrary to what most people would think, sound travels faster through solids than it does through air.

bat using ultrasounds to navigate
A bat using ultrasounds to navigate

An ultrasound is the cyclic sound pressure occurring at a frequency that is greater than a human’s hearing capacity. In the animal kingdom, ultrasound is used for navigation and communication. Some of the most popular examples are of bats, dolphins, and whales. Dogs can hear at a frequency range of 18-22 kHz.

In industry, other uses of the ultrasound are meant to determine the uniformity and purity of liquid. In medicine, ultrasound is used to get a clear reading of what is going on inside the human body without radiation being necessary.

Sonogram vs Ultrasound

So what is the difference between sonogram and ultrasound?

Understanding the difference between sonogram and ultrasound consists of understanding the relationship between the two. Namely, that ultrasound is what makes sonograms possible. Therefore, the ultrasound is the technique used to get a sonogram.

When a pregnant woman goes to the doctor, she gets an ultrasound, which is the name of the actual exam. The result of this exam is the sonogram, which is the image of the fetus.

Comparison Chart

Sonogram Ultrasound
An imaging technique that uses ultrasound to get an image of the inside of the bodyIs the cyclic sound pressure that occurs at a very high frequency
The image resulting from the ultrasound examThe name of the actual exam