Ultrasound imaging is a safe and painless diagnostic study that creates pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. There is no radiation involved. It involves the use of a transducer and a special type of gel which is placed directly on the skin. Images are captured in real-time so it is possible to see the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs as well as blood flowing through blood vessels. Ultrasound imaging assists healthcare providers in diagnosing and treating a variety of medical conditions. It is a useful tool for evaluating symptoms such as pain, swelling or infection. Some of the primary organs examined include: the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, heart and blood vessels, kidneys, bladder, uterus and ovaries, level 1 obstetrical, thyroid glands, scrotum (testicles), and trans-vaginal.
Patient preparation for an ultrasound depends upon which area of the body is being examined. For some studies you may be instructed to not eat or drink anything for 12 hours prior to your appointment. For other studies you may be asked to drink up to 48 ounces of water 2 hours prior to your exam and avoid urinating so that your bladder is full. Most exams are completed within 30 minutes. Wearing a patient gown may or may not be necessary. Patients are usually positioned lying face-up on an examination table. You may be asked to turn to either side to improve the quality of the images. You will most likely feel pressure as the probe/transducer moves gently over your skin/orifice.