What is an ultrasound?
Ultrasound imaging (also called sonography) is a diagnostic technique developed from sonar and radar technology that has been in widespread use for more than 40 years. Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves with a frequency above the range audible to the human ear—“ultrasound”—to create images of internal organs, structures, and tissues. The sound waves are transmitted by a handheld device known as a transducer, which sends short pulses of sound waves into the body. As these waves reflect, or echo, back from the internal tissues, they are received by the transponder, which sends them to a computer that transforms the reflected waves into a visual image. We perform a wide variety of ultrasound studies of organs and structures throughout the body.
Your child’s doctor may request an ultrasound if your child has abdominal pain, which might be caused by gallstones, kidney stones, abscesses, or an inflamed appendix; to guide the placement of needles used in a biopsy; to determine whether and why an abdominal organ is enlarged; to pinpoint the location of abnormal fluid in the abdomen; and to determine why a very young child is vomiting.
How should I help my child get ready for the test?
For most types of ultrasound no special preparation is required, and your child should arrive on the day of the test wearing comfortable clothes. He/she may be asked to change into a gown when you arrive at the ultrasound exam site.
If your daughter is scheduled for a pelvic ultrasound of the ovaries and uterus your doctor will request that you bring her to the exam with a full bladder. This will enable us to obtain the clearest images of the reproductive organs.
What will happen during the test?
During an ultrasound the sonographer will ask your child to lie either face up or on his/her side on the exam table. He/she will cover the skin over the area to be imaged with a small amount of warm gel to prevent air pockets from forming between the transducer and skin. The sonographer will then glide the transducer over the skin, moving from one area to another, to capture the images of the internal organs and tissues, which the transducer then sends to a computer. The technologist will instruct your child when, if necessary, to hold his or her breath to prevent motion on the images.
An ultrasound exam is typically painless, and takes about 30-60 minutes to complete.
What can I do to help put my child more at ease during this test?
You can remain with your child in the imaging area during an ultrasound to offer comfort and reassurance.
Are there any risks?
Ultrasound does not require the use of ionizing radiation, special dyes, or anesthesia and is a safe diagnostic tool with no known risks or side effects.
After the test
After the exam your child can immediately resume his/her normal activities. A radiologist will analyze the ultrasound images and will share the results with the doctor who requested the exam. Your child’s doctor will then discuss the results with you.