Ultrasound imaging, also known as sonography, is the measure of echoes throughout the body in the form of sound waves. These high-frequency sound waves produce images of your body’s organs or the blood flow through your veins and arteries.
Doctors use ultrasound to:
- Determine how far along a woman is in her pregnancy.
- Observe the size, shape, and position of the developing baby.
- Detect tumors or other abnormalities in organs or tissues.
The Benefits of Ultrasound Imaging
- Ultrasound is a painless, non-invasive procedure, so there are no needles.
- Unlike conventional x-rays, ultrasound does not need to use radiation. Ultrasound imaging does not require the use of any ionizing radiation. It's a safe, accurate way for doctors to see the progress of a pregnant woman’s developing baby.
- Doctors also look to ultrasound — a form of real-time imaging — to guide minimally invasive procedures, and to show movement and any abnormalities inside the body.
Preparing for Your Ultrasound
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may need to change in to a gown for the procedure.
- Do not chew gum or smoke for 6 hours before the exam.
- For gallbladder or abdomen ultrasounds, you should have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours before the exam.
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 and avoid urinating so that your bladder is full when the scan begins.
If you have questions about preparing for your ultrasound exam at UPMC Imaging Services, please call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762).
What to Expect During Your Ultrasound
An ultrasound exam usually takes about 45 to 60 minutes.
Ultrasound scanners consist of a:
- Video display screen
- Transducer — a hand-held device attached to the scanner that sends and receives ultrasound signals
During the exam, a technologist will:
- Apply a gel on the skin over the part of your body to be imaged.
- Move the transducer to different positions to view parts of the body at different angles.
The ultrasound image is immediately visible on the nearby video display screen.
Your Ultrasound Test Results
Our board-certified radiologists, perinatologists, cardiologists, and team of imaging specialists interpret your ultrasound scans.
Then, we electronically send your ultrasound images to your doctor who will discuss the results with you.
This state-of-the-art computer delivery system ensures your ultrasound images are always accessible from any UPMC hospital or facility.
If you have questions about preparing for your ultrasound exam, contact UPMC Imaging Services at 1-800-533-UPMC (8762).
Learn More About Types of Ultrasound Exams
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