What is Diagnostic Ultrasound (Sonogram)?
An Ultrasound machine uses high frequency sound waves to create pictures of a variety of body structures including the internal organs of the abdomen and pelvis, the arteries and veins, and the pregnant uterus and fetus. Unlike x-rays and CT scans, ultrasound does not use radiation but instead uses the reflection of sound to produce an image.
Are there any contraindications to having an ultrasound test (sonogram)?
Ultrasound is non-invasive and does not use contrast medium (dye) or radiation. There are no known adverse effects of diagnostic ultrasound. Pacemakers, hearing aids, and metal in the body do not interfere with ultrasound imaging.
How do I prepare for Ultrasound exam?
If you are having an ultrasound of your abdomen you may be asked to fast for 6 hours prior to the study. If you are having a pelvic ultrasound or an ultrasound of your kidneys you may be asked to drink 3 cups of liquid one hour prior to the study to fill your bladder.
How is an Ultrasound exam performed?
- You will be asked to lie on a bed or stretcher next to the machine.
- The sonographer (Ultrasound Registered Technologist) will apply some clear water-based gel to the area of the body to be scanned. Without this gel, the small amount of air between the transducer (probe) and the skin would interfere with imaging.
- The sonographer will then scan over the body part with a hand held probe (transducer) similar in size and shape to a microphone.
- Sound waves are generated which are above the range of human hearing. The machine actually detects high frequency echoes coming back from the body, and a computer uses these to generate an image of the organ being scanned.
These sound waves are not felt by the patient. The time to complete the study varies depending on the type of exam. It usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
Are there any follow up instructions after an Ultrasound exam?
There are no special follow-up instructions after a standard ultrasound procedure. A formal report will be sent to your doctor within 24 hours following your procedure. The doctor ordering the study will speak with you regarding the results.