Ultrasound imaging or sonography is an exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use radiation (x-ray) and they are painless. These exams allow physicians to diagnose and treat medical conditions by displaying images captured in real time showing the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flow through vessels.
A Doppler ultrasound may be part of your ultrasound exam. The Doppler ultrasound takes pictures and measures blood flow as it moves through major arteries and veins in the body.
The preparation for an ultrasound exam varies depending on the part of the body being studied. For example some exams will require that you not eat or drink for as many as 12 hours prior to the exam. Other exams will require that you must have a full bladder by drinking 1 quart of water two hours prior to the exam. Please make sure that you are aware of the preparation for the type of exam your physician has ordered for you. Ultrasound exams will last 30-60 minutes depending on the exam your physician has requested.
You should wear loose-fitting comfortable clothing. You may be asked to change into a gown for this procedure. A Technologist will ask you to remove all clothing and jewelry from the area that is being examined and position you on an examination table.
The ultrasound scanner looks like a computer with a hand held devise attached to an electronic component. This devise is called a transducer. A clear gel will be applied to the area to eliminate air pockets between the skin and the end of the transducer. The transducer will be applied to the area that is being studied; a small amount of discomfort may result as the technologist applies pressure with the transducer. The transducer will send out high-frequency sound waves which will listen for the returning echo. The ultrasound image is made by the sound bouncing back off of the organs, fluids and tissues and can tell whether an object is solid or filled with fluid, as well as its size and shape. In some studies the transducer may be attached to a probe and inserted into the body. The Doppler ultrasound will measure direction and speed of the blood cells as they move through the blood vessels. Images will appear on the computer screen which will be captured and sent to the Radiologist.
How to Prepare for an Ultrasound
When the exam is complete the gel will be wiped from your skin and the technologist will help you up from the table. You may return to your normal activities.
Your physician will receive a report from the Radiologist on the results of the scan.