Ultrasound Scans & Sonograms

Ultrasound scans use high-frequency sound waves directed at the body, producing an image of internal organs and structures with the reflected sound, an echo. The scanner/probe measures the distance from the device to the tissue or organ being scanned, and the time of the return of the echoed signal, to produce a two-dimensional image of the area scanned, a sonogram.

The procedure produces a diagnostic image with no radiation and requires minimum preparation.

What to expect during an ultrasound scan:

The scan will last about 30 minutes, and is painless. After you have changed into a gown, an Advanced Radiology technician will drape a cloth over any exposed areas that are not being examined.

The technician will apply a mineral oil-based jelly to the skin in the area to be scanned. The jelly eliminates air between the device and your skill, allowing the sound waves to travel uninterrupted. The technician will then pass the probe over your skin to record the images.

You may be asked to change position to provide a better image of the area. After the scan, the gel will be wiped away. The gel does not stain or discolor clothing.

During a transvaginal ultrasound, a probe is inserted into the vagina to diagnose pelvic pain or monitor a fetal heartbeat during pregnancy.

How to prepare an ultrasound scan: 
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and no jewelry. You may be asked to wear a gown.
  • For abdominal ultrasound, do not eat or drink 3 to 4 hours prior to your exam. You may drink water to take any necessary medications.
  • Pelvic ultrasound is performed transvaginally (via the vagina), unless otherwise indicated, for which no preparation is necessary. If trans abdominal study is requested, drink 32 ounces of water 1 hour prior to your exam. Eat normally and do not empty your bladder.
  • For OB (obstetric) ultrasound no preparation is necessary.
Benefits of ultrasound scans:
  • Ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections).
  • Exams may be temporarily uncomfortable, but not painful.
  • Ultrasound imaging does not use ionizing radiation.
  • Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.