What is an ultrasound?
Ultrasound is the term used for high-frequency soundwaves. Ultrasound examinations use these sound waves to produce a picture or image onto a screen showing the inside of your body.
An ultrasound is carried out by a trained health professional (sonographer, radiologist or sonologist) using a smooth, hand-held device called a transducer that they move across the body with a sliding and rotating action. The transducer transmits the high-frequency sound waves into your body. Different sound waves are reflected from different soft tissue, structures or parts in the body in different ways. These sound waves are converted to electrical impulses that produce a moving image displayed on a screen.
An ultrasound has many advantages. It is painless and does not involve radiation, which means it is very safe. There are no injections unless your doctor has specifically requested one. The high-frequency sound waves ensure images show very high detail, capable of looking at the very tiniest parts of the body. Ultrasound can be carried out while there is movement, so it is excellent for the imaging of babies and children. (Coombs 2017)
How long does an ultrasound take?
The examination takes approximately 20-30 minutes. However, that can change depending on how many body parts are being examined.
What happens when a patient comes in for an ultrasound?
The examination is performed by a qualified ultrasound technologist (sonographer). You will be asked to lie on the examination table face-up. The ultrasound technologist will apply and spread a clear gel over your skin and then presses the transducer firmly against your body, moving it back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured. There is no radiation involved for ultrasounds. The radiologist, a physician, specialized in reading the images, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your doctor, who in turn will discuss the results with you.
How to prepare for an ultrasound?
Preparation is only required for the following types of ultrasound. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call as we would be more than happy to answer your questions.
You will usually need to fast (have nothing to eat or drink) for 8 hours before the examination. This ensures there is no food or fluid covering the area that is to be examined. It also ensures the gall bladder is expanded to provide a clearer image. (Coombs 2017)
Pelvic / Obstetrical / Kidneys and Bladder Ultrasound
You will need to have a full bladder for this examination. One hour prior to examination drink 1 liter or 5 large glasses of water, please DO NOT empty your bladder.
Abdominal and Pelvic Ultrasound
If your appointment is in the morning, DO NOT eat anything 12 hours prior to your appointment, an hour before your appointment drink 1 Litre (5 Large cups) of water. If your appointment is in the afternoon, for breakfast you may eat dry toast, black tea or black coffee. These instructions are important as we require you to have an empty stomach and full bladder for us to be able to perform your ultrasound properly.
Prostate / Transrectal Ultrasound
To prepare for a Transrectal ultrasound you will need to purchase laxative suppositories from a pharmacy, we recommend Dulcolax. Insert 1-2 suppositories rectally 2 hours before your examination. Alternatively, you can purchase 1 fleet enema and follow the instructions of the pharmacist. One hour prior to your examination drink 1 liter or 5 large glasses of water and DO NOT empty your bladder.
Coombs, P. (2017, March 29). Ultrasound. Retrieved from https://www.insideradiology.com.au/ultrasound/