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General Radiology

Ultrasound

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Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography is a process that targets specific areas in the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (x-ray). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, and blood flowing through blood vessels. This procedure is most commonly used to diagnose abdominal pain or distention, abnormal liver function, enlarged abdominal organ, stones in the gallbladder or kidney.

Preparation
Ultrasounds are usually quick, easy with little discomfort, but you have to take the following steps to ensure efficient and easy results:

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
  • You might not need to remove all clothing, but you should remove all jewelry in the examined area.
  • Preparations depend on the type of ultrasound
    • For a study of the liver, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas, you may be asked to eat a fat-free meal on the evening before the test and then to avoid eating for eight to 12 hours before the test.
    • For ultrasound of the kidneys, you may be asked to drink four to six glasses of liquid about an hour before the test to fill your bladder. You may be asked to avoid eating for 8 to 12 hours before the test to avoid gas buildup in the intestines.

 

Procedure
For most ultrasound exams, you will be positioned lying face-up on an examination table that can be tilted or moved.

A clear water-based gel is applied to the area of the body being studied to help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The sonographer (ultrasound technologist) or radiologist then presses the transducer firmly against the skin in various locations, sweeping over the area of interest or angling the sound beam from a farther location to see an area of concern better. Doppler sonography is performed using the same transducer.

When the examination is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.

This ultrasound examination is usually completed within 20 minutes.