A safe diagnostic medical procedure

Ultrasound is a medical procedure based on the application of high frequency sound waves to image various body parts. It is based on the principle of sound waves "bouncing off" of structures and then being detected to provide structural images. Most frequently associated with imaging during pregnancy, ultrasound is used to diagnose and guide therapeutic procedures.

An ultrasound, sometimes referred to as a sonogram, is a procedure that utilizes sound waves to provide a detailed look at the organs and soft tissue within the body. Typical procedures include abdomen, chest, OB/pelvic, breast, liver and thyroid scans along with biopsy and drainage procedures.

Ultrasound is safe and painless. The entire process takes approximately 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the type of sonogram that is needed. Information obtained will assist your physician in identifying problems and planning a course of treatment specific to your needs.

How to prepare and what to expect

For most sonograms, very little preparation is required. However, you may be requested to not eat or drink plenty of liquids depending on the type of sonogram you are having. Instructions will be given to you at the time you are scheduled.

Once you are in the ultrasound room, you will be asked to lie down on a table. Please make sure you are comfortable, as you will be laying on the table for approximately 30 minutes to one hour. The area that is being scanned will then be uncovered and a warm gel will be applied. The gel acts as a connector between you and the equipment and will allow the sonographer to obtain an optimal study.

During the procedure, a device called a transducer will be moved back and forth across the area of interest. You will be asked to hold very still and at times to hold your breath until the picture is complete. A series of images will be made of the area in question.