Ultrasound

Ultrasound imaging (also called sonography) is a diagnostic technique developed from sonar and radar technology, which 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 transducer, which sends them to a computer that transforms the reflected waves into a visual image.

How do I prepare for the test?

On the day of the test you should wear comfortable clothes, and you may be asked to change into a gown when you arrive at the ultrasound exam site. See below for how to prepare for ultrasound tests of specific areas in the body:

Abdomen Nothing to eat or drink 10 hours prior
Aorta No preparation
Bladder 48 oz fluid completed 1 hour before exam time
Breast No preparation
Breast Core Biopsy/FNA/Cyst Aspiration No aspirin or blood thinner 3 days prior to procedure
Extremity No preparation
Gall Bladder Nothing to eat or drink 10 hours prior
Hysterosonogram No preparation
Kidney 48 oz fluid completed 1 hour before exam time
Liver Nothing to eat or drink 10 hours prior
Pancreas Nothing to eat or drink 10 hours prior
Pelvis 64 oz fluid completed 1 hour before exam time
Scrotum No preparation
Spleen Nothing to eat or drink 10 hours prior
Thyroid No preparation
Transvaginal Pelvis No Preparation

What will happen during the test?

During an ultrasound the sonographer will ask you to lie on the exam table. He/she will cover the skin over the area to be examined 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 your skin to capture the images of the tissues below, which the transducer then sends to a computer.

An ultrasound exam is typically painless, and takes about 20-30 minutes to complete.

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 you can immediately resume your normal activities. A radiologist will analyze the ultrasound images and will share the results with the doctor who requested the exam. Your doctor will then discuss the results with you.