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Eye and orbit ultrasound

Echography - eye orbit; Ultrasound - eye orbit; Ocular ultrasonography; Orbital ultrasonography

An eye and orbit ultrasound is a test to look at the eye area. It also measures the size and structures of the eye.

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Eye ultrasound

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How the Test is Performed

The test is most often done in the ophthalmologist's office or the ophthalmology department of a hospital or clinic.

Your eye is numbed with medicine (anesthetic drops). The ultrasound wand (transducer) is placed against the front surface of the eye.

The ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves that travel through the eye. Reflections (echoes) of the sound waves form a picture of the structure of the eye. The test takes about 15 minutes.

There are 2 types of scans: A-scan and B-scan.

For the A-scan:

For the B-scan:

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is needed for this test.

How the Test will Feel

Your eye is numbed, so you should not have any discomfort. You may be asked to look in different directions to improve the ultrasound image or so it can view different areas of your eye.

The gel used with the B-scan may run down your cheek, but you will not feel any discomfort or pain.

Why the Test is Performed

You may need this test if you have cataracts or other eye problems.

An A-scan ultrasound measures the eye to determine the right power of a lens implant before cataract surgery.

A B-scan is done to look at the inside part of the eye or the space around and behind the eye (orbit) that cannot be seen directly. This may occur when you have cataracts or other conditions that make it hard for the doctor to see into the back of your eye. The test may help diagnose retinal detachment, tumors, or other disorders.

Normal Results

For an A-scan, measurements of the eye are in the normal range.

For a B-scan, the structures of the eye and orbit appear normal.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A B-scan may show:

Risks

To avoid scratching the cornea, do not rub the numbed eye until the anesthetic wears off (about 15 minutes). There are no other risks.

Related Information

Ultrasound
Adult cataract
Retinal detachment
Cataract removal
Retinoblastoma
Melanoma of the eye

References

Campion T, Miszkiel K, Davagnanam I. The orbit. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 60.

Fisher YL, Sebrow DB. Contact B-scan ultrasonography. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 6.5.

Guthoff RF, Labriola LT, Stachs O. Diagnostic ophthalmic ultrasound. In: Schachat AP, Sadda SVR, Hinton DR, Wilkinson CP, Wiedemann P, eds. Ryan's Retina. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 11.

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Review Date: 3/2/2021  

Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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