Information About Your Ultrasound Exam
What Is Ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a name for high-frequency sound waves (Waves above the range of human hearing). In medicine, an ultrasound scanner uses these high-frequency sound waves to make a television image and permanent pictures of many structures within the body.
Preparing for Your Ultrasound Examination
You may receive special instructions before your ultrasound examination. Because air in the stomach and intestines interferes with sound waves, you may be asked not to eat before an examination of your upper abdomen. If your lower abdomen or pelvis is going to be examined, you may be asked to report for your appointment with a full bladder. Examination of some organs (blood vessels, for example) need no special preparation.
During the Examination
The ultrasound scanner is a sophisticated machine, but the examination is simple and painless, usually requiring no more than one hour. A hand-held instrument called a transducer is placed against your skin and slowly passed over the area to be examined. Some special ultrasound studies examine the flow of blood. During this type of examination, you may hear a rushing or pulsating noise caused by the flowing blood.
Because a gel or oil will be used to help the transducer keep close contact with the skin, it is necessary that your clothes be removed. You may be given a gown or a robe to wear if necessary. Jewelry and watches do not usually present a problem.
The majority of your scan will be done by an ultrasound technologist, a skilled individual with several years of education and training in the use of ultrasound.
When the Examination Is Over
When the preliminary examination is over, your technologist will review your study with a radiologist specialized in interpreting ultra-sound images. Occasionally, the radiologist will require additional views and may choose to examine you briefly. Since careful review of your ultrasound pictures and medical history are necessary before interpretation, the technologist will not give the test results to you. The radiologist will report the findings of your scan to your physician.