What is ultrasound and how does it work?
Ultrasound uses sound waves and a computer to create images of internal organs and blood vessels and to monitor the progress of pregnancy. A tool called a transducer that emits sound waves is placed over the area of the body being examined. The sound waves bounce off these structures and their echoes are received by the transducer, which then sends the information to a computer. The computer analyzes the information and creates a moving image.
Ultrasound is commonly used to look at:
- The organs and blood vessels in the abdomen (liver, kidneys, spleen, gallbladder, bile ducts, aorta and pancreas)
- The pelvis (uterus, ovaries, bladder and prostate)
- A fetus (to check for gestational age and irregularities)
- Breast, thyroid, scrotum, or other soft tissue mass
- Arteries and veins in the neck, abdomen and legs
What should you bring to your procedure?
- Prescription or referral from your physician
- List of medications you take
- Insurance cards
- Previous ultrasound scans and reports outside our network
- Medical history
How do you prepare for your ultrasound?
- Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment and bring your referral form.
- If you need to reschedule or cancel, please call at least 24 hours in advance.
- Please note special instructions for pelvic, obstetrical, BPP, gallbladder and abdominal ultrasound exams below.
Special instructions for pelvic ultrasound exams:
- Drink 32 ounces of fluid one hour before your exam and do not empty your bladder until the test is completed.
Special instructions for obstetrical ultrasound exams:
- For pregnancies up to 25 weeks, drink 16 ounces of fluid one hour before the exam and do not empty your bladder until the test is completed.
- For pregnancies 26 weeks or more, there are no special preparations.
Special instructions for a biophysical profile (BPP):
This test determines the health of your fetus by checking movement, increases in heart rate, muscle tone, breathing rate, and amount of amniotic fluid.
- Eat or drink something sweet one hour prior to the ultrasound exam, unless contraindicated by your physician.
Special instructions for gallbladder and abdominal ultrasound tests:
- Do not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum for 6 hours before the test.
What will you experience during your ultrasound exam?
- A technologist will take you to the exam room, ask you some medical questions, and explain what you can expect during your test.
- Before your scan, you may change into a gown and be asked to remove all metal and plastic items from the part of your body being examined.
During Your Ultrasound
- A technologist will help you onto the examining table and position you comfortably.
- The technologist will apply gel to the area of your body that will be examined and then will place the transducer over that area.
- For some pelvic ultrasound exams, the technologist will use a vaginal transducer which creates clearer images of the organs in your pelvis.
- The exam usually takes about 30 minutes.
After your ultrasound
- You can leave immediately after your test and resume your normal activities.
- The radiologist will review your exam and send the written report to your physician.
- Urgent findings will be called or faxed to your physician.
For an appointment, please 410-580-2400.