Ultrasound

Evaluates organs with the use of sound waves

Ultrasound, also called sonography, is an imaging technique that gathers real time images and movement inside your body – usually an organ. Ultrasound doesn’t use radiation and is completely safe. The most common reasons to have ultrasound are to investigate pain, swelling or infection.

Looking at Movement in Your Body

During ultrasound, an ultrasound technologist lightly moves a special wand (transducer) over the area of your body being examined, applying a clear gel to your skin to help the wand glide and provide a medium to conduct the transmission and retrieval of the soundwave. The wand transmits sound waves that create pictures on a computer. Your doctor uses the images to find the cause of your health problems.

Specialized Ultrasound

Specialized ultrasound may be used to more closely view the internal structures of your body:

  • General ultrasound looks at your heart, liver, kidneys, bladder or another organ.
  • During pregnancy, doctors use ultrasound to view the developing fetus.
  • Doppler ultrasound checks your blood flow.

Sometimes you need to have the transducer inserted in your body to provide your doctor with a certain view. For example, a special transducer can be placed in the rectum to get images of the prostate gland, or placed in the vagina to get images of the uterus and ovaries.

What to Expect

Looking at Movement in Your Body

During ultrasound, an ultrasound technologist lightly moves a special wand (transducer) over the area of your body being examined, applying a clear gel to your skin to help the wand glide and provide a medium to conduct the transmission and retrieval of the soundwave. The wand transmits sound waves that create pictures on a computer. Your doctor uses the images to find the cause of your health problems.

Specialized Ultrasound

Specialized ultrasound may be used to more closely view the internal structures of your body:

  • General ultrasound looks at your heart, liver, kidneys, bladder or another organ.
  • During pregnancy, doctors use ultrasound to view the developing fetus.
  • Doppler ultrasound checks your blood flow.

Sometimes you need to have the transducer inserted in your body to provide your doctor with a certain view. For example, a special transducer can be placed in the rectum to get images of the prostate gland, or placed in the vagina to get images of the uterus and ovaries.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your ultrasound exam. You may be asked to remove your jewelry and change into a gown.

Depending on the reason for your ultrasound, you may be asked to not eat or drink for a certain number of hours before your exam, or you may be asked to drink a number of glasses of water right before your exam and avoid using the bathroom. Your doctor will review any special instructions you need to follow.

Preparing for Your Exam

Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your ultrasound exam. You may be asked to remove your jewelry and change into a gown.

Depending on the reason for your ultrasound, you may be asked to not eat or drink for a certain number of hours before your exam, or you may be asked to drink a number of glasses of water right before your exam and avoid using the bathroom. Your doctor will review any special instructions you need to follow.

You can go back to normal activities immediately after an ultrasound exam.

Radiologists review your ultrasound images and prepare a report for your doctor. Your technologist will tell you when to expect the results of your ultrasound.

After Your Exam

You can go back to normal activities immediately after an ultrasound exam.

Radiologists review your ultrasound images and prepare a report for your doctor. Your technologist will tell you when to expect the results of your ultrasound.

Be sure to write down in advance the questions you want to ask your doctor so you don’t forget them at your appointment. Your questions might include:

  • Why do I need to have an ultrasound exam?
  • When will I receive the results?
  • Will I need to have more tests after this?

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Be sure to write down in advance the questions you want to ask your doctor so you don’t forget them at your appointment. Your questions might include:

  • Why do I need to have an ultrasound exam?
  • When will I receive the results?
  • Will I need to have more tests after this?

Patient Stories for Ultrasound

RadiologyInfo.org

The American College of Radiology and Radiological Society of North America features extensive information about ultrasound and how it benefits you and your physician.

Resources

RadiologyInfo.org

The American College of Radiology and Radiological Society of North America features extensive information about ultrasound and how it benefits you and your physician.