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Ultrasound Artifacts: Classification, Applied Physics With Illustrations, and Imaging Appearances

Prabhu, Somnath J. MD*; Kanal, Kalpana PhD; Bhargava, Puneet MD; Vaidya, Sandeep MD§; Dighe, Manjiri K. MD

doi: 10.1097/RUQ.0b013e3182a80d34
Review Article

Ultrasound has become a widely used diagnostic imaging modality in medicine because of its safety and portability. Because of rapid advances in technology, in recent years, sonographic imaging quality has significantly increased. Despite these advances, the potential to encounter artifacts while imaging remains.

This article classifies both common and uncommon gray-scale and Doppler ultrasound artifacts into those resulting from physiology and those caused by hardware. A brief applied-physics explanation for each artifact is listed along with an illustrated diagram. The imaging appearance of artifacts is presented in case examples, along with strategies to minimize the artifacts in real time or use them for clinical advantage where applicable.

*Department of Radiology, †Department of Radiology, Division of Diagnostic Physics, ‡Department of Radiology, Division of Body Imaging, and §Department of Radiology, Division of Interventional Radiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Received for publication May 8, 2013; accepted August 4, 2013.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Manjiri K. Dighe, MD, Department of Radiology, Division of Body Imaging, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific St, Seattle WA 98195 (e-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins