What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound, or sonography, is a scan that uses high-frequency sound waves to show the inside of your body. The test is safe and easy and does not use x-rays or radiation. 

Because your body is over 90 percent water, sound waves can travel through it just as sonar is used in the ocean. During the exam, as the machine sends sound waves through your body, they create an echo when they hit various tissues. The returning echoes are recorded by a computer that then displays them on a screen to an ultrasound technologist.

Why is an Ultrasound Done?

Your doctor can use the results of an ultrasound to detect and diagnose a wide range of medical conditions. The ultrasound reveals movement and live function in the body’s organs in real-time.

Ultrasound is most effective in diagnosing conditions in the following areas:

  • Examination of the heart
  • Evaluation of vascular disease
  • Revealing information about the size and shape of tumors and cysts
  • Evaluating the gallbladder and related organs
  • Evaluation of the uterus and ovaries
  • Examination of the fetus during pregnancy

Before the Exam

An ultrasound is safe and painless. You may be asked to fast for several hours before the exam or to drink several glasses of water to create fullness in the bladder, but your doctor will give you any specific instructions you need. Please avoid carbonated beverages before the exam, as bubbles in your body can interfere with the ultrasound images. Otherwise, there are no special preparations you need to take for your exam.

If you have questions about a health condition that could affect your exam, please talk to an ultrasound technologist.

During the Exam

An ultrasound exam usually takes on average 30 minutes. Your technologist will ask you to lie or sit on an examination table. The technologist may then lower the lights in the room to make the computer display easier to see. A gel will be applied to your skin over the area to be scanned. This gel allows the ultrasound transducer, which transmits images to the computer, to slide easily over your skin.

You may feel some discomfort if you have a full bladder and the technologist is pressing the transducer wand over your abdomen.

For pelvic examinations, such as those for the prostate gland, uterus, or ovaries, the technologist will explain the use of an ultrasound probe. This probe is placed in the rectum or vagina to better capture images of internal structures. You may ask for a third person, or chaperone, to be present at these types of intimate exams, if you wish.

As the transducer transmits live images of your body to the computer, the technologist will capture pictures for permanent reference.

After the Exam

A radiologist will review your images and send a report to your doctor, who will notify you of any findings. You may also request to receive your images on CD.

Request an Appointment

To speak with an Imaging Services representative or to schedule an appointment, please call 214-645-XRAY (9729).