About Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrasound imaging, also called sonography, is a method of getting images from inside the human body using high-frequency sound waves.

Ultrasound is a diagnostic tool that can help providers diagnose conditions or recommend further treatment.

There are many different reasons your doctor might recommend that you have an ultrasound exam. These reasons include:

  • To examine many of your body’s internal organs, including the heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and bladder
  • To show movement of internal tissues and organs, and to let doctors see blood flow and heart valve functions
  • To guide procedures such as needle biopsies
  • To image the breast and to guide biopsy of breast cancer
  • To evaluate superficial structures, such as the thyroid gland and scrotum (testicles)
  • To view your baby while still in the womb

Before your ultrasound

Come to the ultrasound exam in comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Also, depending on the type of ultrasound exam you have, you may be asked to:

  • Not eat or drink for up to 12 hours before your appointment
  • Drink up to 6 glasses of water 2 hours prior to your exam and avoid urinating to ensure a full bladder when the exam begins

What to expect during your ultrasound

The ultrasound technologist will apply a clear gel in the area of your body to be examined. This helps the transducer, the part of the instrument guided along the body, make contact with the skin. The technologist firmly presses the transducer against your skin and moves it back and forth to image the area of interest.

Most ultrasound exams are painless; however, the gel applied to your skin may be a bit cold. There also may be varying degrees of discomfort and pressure as the technologist guides the transducer over your abdomen, especially if you are required to have a full bladder.


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