What is an ultrasound scan?
A small hand-held sensor pressed carefully against the skin surface generates sound waves and detects any echoes reflected back off the surfaces and tissue boundaries of internal organs. The sensor can be moved over the skin to view the organ from different angles. The images are displayed on a screen and recorded for subsequent study.
Ultrasound images complement other forms of scans and are widely used for many different parts of the body. They can also be used to study blood flow and to detect any narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, for example, in the neck.
Ultrasound is also used for intimate examinations; for example, of the prostate gland in men or the womb or ovaries in women. For some of these examinations, it may be necessary to place an ultrasound probe in the vagina or the rectum to look at internal structures. If you are having an intimate examination the sonographer will describe the procedure to you, and your consent will be required.
Who will be doing the ultrasound?
Sonographers (radiographers) or radiologists (doctors) who have specialized training in the technique of ultrasound.
They carry out a great number of these examinations and will provide a descriptive report of their findings to your doctor.
Where will the procedure take place?
Generally in the radiology department.
Do I need to make any special preparations in advance?
Some preparation may be required. If your pelvis, kidney or bladder are to be scanned, you may be required to ensure that your bladder is full before the examination can begin. For some examinations such as the gall bladder and pancreas, you may be required to fast for a specified number of hours. If so, this will be explained in the accompanying appointment letter. You should tell the radiology department in advance if you have had a similar ultrasound recently.
If you are diabetic please bring some food and your medication with you on the day of the scan.
Can I bring a relative/friend?
Yes. However, it may not be suitable for a friend to remain in the scanning room if you undergo an intimate examination.
When you arrive
Please report to the reception desk in the radiology department.
The sonographer will explain the procedure for your examination and, if you have to undress for the procedure, may show you to a private cubicle where you will undress.
Who will I see?
You will be seen by a radiologist or a sonographer depending upon the type of investigation you are having.