Ultrasound imaging, also called sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams are safe and non-invasive, and do not use ionizing radiation (x-ray). Since ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels. Ultrasound imaging is usually a painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.
Conventional ultrasound displays the images in thin, flat sections of the body. Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood as it flows through a blood vessel, including the body’s major arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs and neck.
Ultrasound is used to help physicians diagnose symptoms such as:
Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body’s internal organs, including but not limited to the:
- heart and blood vessels, including the abdominal aorta and its major branches
- uterus, ovaries, and unborn child (fetus) in pregnant patients
- scrotum (testicles)
Doppler ultrasound images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
- blockages to blood flow (such as clots)
- narrowing of vessels (which may be caused by plaque)
- tumors and congenital malformation
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the bladder need to be full for a pelvic exam?
A full bladder pushes the uterus in a position where we can see it better, and brightens up the entire pelvis so that we can adequately visualize the uterus and ovaries. It also moves the intestines and bowel out of the way.
Why do I need to have a transabdominal and transvaginal Ultrasound exam done?
The transabdominal exam gives an overview of the pelvis to look for abnormalities outside the uterus and ovaries as well as better overall visualization of the uterus. The transvaginal portion of the exam gives a higher detailed view of the ovaries and other small structures.
Can I have a transvaginal exam while I am still on my period?
Yes, but if you are uncomfortable in any way we would be happy to
reschedule your appointment.
Why do I have to fast for my abdominal Ultrasound?
This decreases the amount of gas in the abdomen and allows the gallbladder to be adequately visualized. The gallbladder contracts down when you eat or drink.
Why is it better to schedule my abdominal or RUQ Ultrasound in the morning?
Your abdomen has the least amount of gas in the morning.
What is a Renal Duplex exam and why does it need to be scheduled in the morning?
A renal duplex exam images the arteries going to the kidneys as well as, the very small arteries within the kidneys. On a normal patient, the arteries can be very difficult to see. In our experience, due to this and other factors, the small renal arteries are best visualized early in the day. You do have to drink water prior to the exam because the bladder is also imaged.
Is Ultrasound radiation?
No. Ultrasound uses sound waves.
Is Ultrasound better than other modalities?
Not necessarily. Each modality images differently. Sometimes it is necessary to image with different modalities different ways for the best diagnosis. An Ultrasound is what your doctor’s office has ordered at this time.
I am under age 25, why am I having an Ultrasound of my breast instead of a mammogram?
It is best to start with an Ultrasound (no radiation) first. Women under the age of 30 also have very dense breasts, which makes mammography very difficult to interpret. If the radiologist feels as though a mammogram is necessary, we will then proceed with mammography.
Why do I need to arrive 15 minutes prior to my exam?
To be registered, checked in and complete paperwork.
Do you scan my entire breast or just specific areas?
We do not do screening Ultrasound of entire breast, we only do focal targeting areas of breasts based on physician’s orders and clinical findings.
- Nothing to eat or drink 8 hours prior to the exam.
Abdominal / RUQ Ultrasound
- Nothing to eat or drink 8 hours before the exam.
- Drink 24-32 ounces of water 1 hour prior to your exam and hold.
Renal Artery Ultrasound
- No food or drink 8 hours prior to the exam. Drink 24 oz. one hour prior to the exam. Schedule preferably in the morning to eliminate bowel gas interference.
Pelvic / Early OB Ultrasound
- Drink 32 ozs of fluid within 1 hours immediately preceding the exam time. Do not empty bladder; the bladder should be very full for this exam.