What Is an Ultrasound?
An ultrasound, or sonogram, uses sound waves to measure echoes throughout the body.
These high-frequency sound waves produce images of your body's organs or the blood flow through your veins and arteries.
Since ultrasound uses sound waves, there's no radiation exposure.
At UPMC Imaging Services, we use the most up-to-date ultrasound technology.
Ultrasound machines consist of a:
- Video display screen.
- Small, handheld device that scans the body.
Our highly trained imaging techs are experts at assessing and capturing high-quality ultrasound images.
Why might I need an ultrasound?
Doctors use ultrasound to:
- Learn how far along a woman is in her pregnancy.
- See the size, shape, and position of the developing baby.
- Detect tumors or other defects in organs or tissues.
- Look at abdominal and reproductive organs, the bladder, thyroid, breast, and blood vessels in the neck, arms, and legs.
- Guide biopsies of the breast, thyroid, lymph node, and other organs.
Find an imaging location near you
What Are the Benefits of Ultrasound Imaging?
- Ultrasound is a painless, non-invasive scan.
- Unlike standard x-rays, ultrasound doesn't need to use radiation.
- It's a safe way for doctors to see the progress of a pregnant woman's developing baby.
Instant, real-time pictures
Doctors also look to ultrasound — a form of real-time imaging — to:
- Guide minimally invasive tests and treatments.
- Show movement and any abnormalities inside the body.
How Do I Prep for My Ultrasound?
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may need to change into a gown for the test.
- Do not chew gum or smoke for 6 hours before the scan.
- For gallbladder or abdomen ultrasounds, do not eat or drink for 6 hours before your test.
For some types of ultrasound exams, you may need to:
- Fast (not eat or drink) for as many as 12 hours before your appointment.
- Drink up to six glasses of water 2 hours prior to your exam. Avoid peeing so you have a full bladder for the scan.
If you have questions about preparing for your ultrasound exam, call 1-800-533-8762.
What to Expect During Your Ultrasound
An ultrasound takes about 45 to 60 minutes.
During the test, your ultrasound tech will:
- Apply a gel on the skin over the part of your body they're scanning.
- Move the handheld device over parts of the body at different angles.
- Look at the ultrasound images on the nearby video display screen.
Your Ultrasound Test Results
Our team of imaging specialists will review your ultrasound scans and summarize the results.
Then we'll send your ultrasound images through our secure computer system to your doctor who will discuss the results with you.
This state-of-the-art computer system means doctors and care teams at any UPMC hospital or office can access your ultrasound images.
You can also view your test results at your UPMC patient portal account.
Call your doctor's office if you have any questions about your ultrasound results.