What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging, also called sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves. The sound reflects off internal soft tissue organs to produce real-time 3-D pictures inside the body. Using Doppler technology, ultrasounds can also measure blood flow. Ultrasound is very safe, because ultrasound uses no radiation.

Ultrasounds are classified into five basic categories: Pelvic/Obstetric, Abdomen, Vascular, Breast and Scrotal.

What to Expect During an Ultrasound

  • Ultrasound exams are scheduled by your physician. Test time varies from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the type of exam ordered.
  • Most likely you will be positioned lying face-up on an examination table that can be tilted or moved.
  • A clear water-based gel is applied to the area of the body being studied. The sonographer (ultrasound technologist) then uses a device called a transducer to press firmly against the skin in various locations, sweeping over the area of interest, and recording images for evaluation.
  • When the examination is complete, the patient may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.

Preparing for an Ultrasound

  • Early appointments are recommended for diabetic patients scheduled for exams requiring diet restrictions.
  • 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.
  • Other preparation depends on the type of examination you will have. For some scans you may be instructed to not 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.