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Ultrasound

ultrasoundUltrasound imaging uses a transducer or probe to generate sound waves and produce pictures of the body's internal structures. It does not use ionizing radiation, has no known harmful effects, and provides a clear picture of soft tissues that don't show up well on x-ray images. Ultrasound is often used to help diagnose unexplained pain, swelling and infection. It may also be used to provide imaging guidance to needle biopsies or to see and evaluate conditions related to blood flow. It's also the preferred imaging method for monitoring a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

Why an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound creates images of soft tissue structures including:

  • Gallbladder
  • Liver
  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Pancreas
  • Bladder
  • Thyroid gland
  • Prostate
  • Female reproductive organs
  • Babies inside the uterus
  • Testicles
  • Breast

Ultrasounds can also be used to measure:

  • The flow of blood in the arteries and veins and detect blockages
  • Cysts or abnormal growths in the liver, spleen or pancreas
  • Abnormal enlargement of the spleen
  • Cancer of the liver
  • Gallstones
  • Heart conditions and damage after a heart attack

How to Prepare for Your Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are fairly simple, non-invasive tests that usually require no special preparation. You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your exam, and you may be required to remove all of your clothing and jewelry in the area being scanned. You may also be asked to wear a gown during the procedure.

Any required preparation will depend on the type of examination you’ll have, with many requiring no preparation at all. For some tests, however, your physician my instruct you not to eat or drink for 12 hours before your procedure, while for other tests you may be instructed to drink up to 6 glasses of water two hours prior to your exam and avoid urination so your bladder is full. If preparation is required, please follow your physician’s instructions carefully so we can obtain an accurate reading.

Your physician will give you a complete set of instructions before your ultrasound so you can be fully prepared for it. If you have any questions as to what you need to do, or how the procedure is performed, you should ask your doctor.

During Your Ultrasound

During your ultrasound you will most likely be asked to lay face-up on an examination table that is padded and can be titled or moved. A registered diagnostic medical sonographer will perform the exam. He or she will begin by applying a small amount of a clear, water-based gel to the area of your body being studied. This gel is not harmful to your skin and can be wiped off as soon as the test is complete. The sonographer will then apply the transducer to your skin, pressing it down slightly in various locations. You may be asked to hold your breath for brief periods of time.

Ultrasounds can last several minutes up to a couple hours, depending on the exam, after which the radiologist will read the exam and study the images. The radiologist will send the results to your physician who will discuss them with you. There are no known risks to having an ultrasound done.

If you have questions about an upcoming Ultrasound, please contact our Diagnostic Imaging Sonographers by calling (740) 623-4132. For more information on Diagnostic Imaging testing and treatments, visit RadiologyInfo.org.