Ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure that relies on high-frequency sound waves to produce images of internal organs and soft tissues. Ultrasound images are captured in real-time, making it possible to monitor structure as well as movement within the body, such as blood flow, which makes ultrasound particularly useful in guiding needle biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures. For those medically excluded from having an MRI, such as a patient with a pacemaker or cochlear implant, ultrasound is a safe alternative. Ultrasound also does not involve any radiation.
Ultrasound has many diagnostic uses, including:
Abdominal imaging to assess pain, abnormalities, and function of most major organs (except the bowel)
Pelvic imaging to examine function and abnormalities in the bladder, uterus, ovaries fallopian tube, prostate
Obstetrical imaging to estimate age of pregnancy, assess fetal growth and well-being
Musculoskeletal imaging to assess injuries, hernias, and growths; ultrasound scans often provide more detail in soft tissues tendons and nerves than MRIs do
Many ultrasound exams require no special preparation, other than dressing comfortably on the day of the scan. You may be asked to change into a gown for the procedure. We will provide you with instructions specific to your procedure beforehand.
If you are having an abdominal ultrasound, do not eat or drink six hours prior to the exam, except for medication with small amounts of water.
If you are having a pelvic or obstetrical ultrasound, you need a full bladder for the procedure. About 90 minutes before your scan, begin drinking 32 ounces of water (4 cups), making sure to complete drinking a hour before your scan. For pregnancies over 20 weeks, only 16 ounces of water is required. Do not urinate until after the ultrasound.