What to expect
What is an Ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging test. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create real-time pictures or videos of internal organs or other soft tissues, such as blood vessels.
Who Performs an Ultrasound?
An ultrasound technologist or a diagnostic medical sonographer performs ultrasounds. They’re specially trained to operate an ultrasound machine properly and safely.
How do I Prepare for an Ultrasound?
The preparations will depend on the type of ultrasound you’re having. Some types of ultrasounds require no preparation at all. For some exams you may be asked to fast, or fill your bladder beforehand. In any case, your healthcare provider will let you know if you need to do anything special to prepare for your ultrasound.
What happens During an Ultrasound?
Ultrasounds that involve applying the transducer (probe) over your skin (not in your body) follow these general steps:
You will lay on your back or side on a comfortable table.
The room is usually darkened to help the technologist see the pictures on the monitor.
The ultrasound technologist will apply a small amount of water-soluble gel on your skin over the area to be examined. This gel doesn’t harm your skin or stain your clothes.
The technologist will move the transducer with gel over the designated body part to get required images.
The technologist may ask you to be very still or to hold your breath for a few seconds to create clearer pictures.
Once the technologist has enough images, they will wipe off any remaining gel on your skin, and present findings to the reading radiologist. The ultrasound technologist is not allowed to give patient results.
An ultrasound test usually takes 30 minutes to an hour.
Is an Ultrasound Painful?
Ultrasounds that are performed over your skin are generally not painful. You do not feel the sound waves that ultrasound machines use. However, it may be uncomfortable if you have a full bladder for the procedure. Ultrasounds that go inside body cavities, may be uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t hurt.
Are Ultrasounds Safe?
Yes, research to date has largely shown ultrasound technology to be safe with no harmful side effects. Ultrasounds do not use any radiation.