Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create an image from the inside of your body. An ultrasound can be used to detect any changes or abnormalities in your organs, tissues, or blood vessels.
An ultrasound is performed as an outpatient procedure in our imaging department, meaning there is no need to stay overnight in hospital. Ultrasound scans are a relatively quick form of imaging, usually lasting between 5-30 minutes.
You will be asked to lie on a couch for the scan. Your radiographer will apply some conducting gel to area which is going to be scanned, which allows the scanning probe to glide easily over the skin, and also helps with the transmission of the sound waves. The probe provides a live image of the area being scanned on a screen. Photographs will also be taken to be examined.
You may be required to have an internal ultrasound, or a transvaginal, transrectal ultrasound. These scans are used to look at the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus, and also the prostate gland. A small ultrasound probe is covered with a sterile material and passed into the vagina or rectum. These examinations don’t usually cause any pain, but can be slightly uncomfortable for some.
For some scans, usually of the pelvic area or female reproductive organs, you will be required to have a full bladder beforehand. You may also be asked to avoid eating for a few hours before the scan if it is of the digestive system, to allow for clearer images. You will be informed and given full instructions beforehand if this is required.
It is advisable to wear loose clothing to your procedure.
You will be able to carry on with your normal daily activities after an ultrasound. Your images will then be sent to a radiologist to examine.
There are no known risks with an ultrasound. Unlike X-ray or CT, ultrasound does not expose you to radiation.