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Ultrasound produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of a small transducer (probe) and ultrasound gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves are transmitted from the probe through the gel into the body. The transducer collects the sound waves that bounce back and a computer then uses those sound waves to create an image. Ultrasound examinations do not use radiation, thus there is no radiation exposure to the patient. Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.

How to Prepare and What to Expect

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam. You may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined.

You may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure.

Preparation for the procedure will depend on the type of examination you will have. For some exams your doctor may instruct you not to eat or drink for as many as 12 hours before your appointment. For others you may be asked to drink up to six glasses of water two hours prior to your exam and avoid urinating so that your bladder is full when the scan begins.

Ultrasound machines consist of a console, a video display screen and a transducer that is used to do the scanning. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone, attached to the scanner by a cord. Some exams may use different transducers (with different capabilities) during a single exam. The transducer sends out inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes from the tissues in the body. The principles are similar to sonar used by boats and submarines.

The ultrasound technologist or sonographer will apply warm gel to the area to be examined. This helps the transducer make contact with your skin. The sonographer will then place the transducer against your skin. By changing the position of the transducer the sonographer will obtain the images needed for the exam. If needed, the radiologist may take more images after the sonographer is done.

The exams usually take 30 minutes to one hour to complete.

After the Procedure

When the examination is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.

After an ultrasound examination, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.

A radiologist who specializes in ultrasound will review the images and send a report to your referring doctor. You will receive your results from the doctor who ordered the test.

Types of US Exams:

  • Ultrasound: Abdomen & Vascular Abdomen
  • Ultrasound: Aspiration of Fluid Collection
  • Ultrasound: Appendix
  • Ultrasound: Biopsy
  • Ultrasound: Breast
  • Ultrasound: Carotid
  • Ultrasound: Extremity Vascular Arterial
  • Ultrasound: Extremity Vascular Venous
  • Ultrasound: Kidney & Renal Artery
  • Ultrasound: Neonatal head
  • Ultrasound: Obstetrical
  • Ultrasound: Pelvic
  • Ultrasound: Scrotal
  • Ultrasound: Soft Tissue
  • Ultrasound: Thyroid
  • Ultrasound: Fine Needle Aspiration
  • Ultrasound: Guided Paracentesis
  • Ultrasound: Guided Thoracentesis