What is an ultrasound?

Medical sonography (ultrasonography) is an ultrasound-based diagnostic medical imaging technique used to visualize muscles, tendons, and many internal organs, to capture their size, structure and any pathological lesions with real time tomographic images. Ultrasound has been used by radiologists and sonographers to image the human body for at least 50 years and has become a widely used diagnostic tool.

What should I expect?

Your ultrasound exam will be performed by a sonographer, a technologist who specializes in imaging with ultrasound. Not many exams require you to change clothes, but all exams require the use of gel, a substance a little thinner than Vaseline (about the consistency of hair gel). The gel does not stain clothing, but efforts will be made to avoid contact with your clothing to avoid dampness. You will lie on your back for the duration of this 15-30 minute exam. Unless the area being scanned is very sensitive to touch, there is typically no pain involved.

What can I do to prepare?

Different exams require different preparations. Most abdominal ultrasound exams require you to be NPO (nothing by mouth – NO EATING or DRINKING) for 4-6 hours prior to the test. A pelvic ultrasound commonly requires you to completely fill your bladder prior to imaging. If your exam requires special preparations, you will be given those instructions at the time your exam is scheduled.