Need An Ultrasound? Here's What To Expect

Radiologic imagery has been around for more than a century and has been an invaluable medical tool for diagnosing many conditions. Ultrasound imagery has only been around since the 1950s, but it helps medical professionals go where x-rays cannot – soft tissue. Whereas radiology can capture images of bony structures, ultrasound lets doctors see into soft tissue structures such as the brain, heart, uterus, and kidneys. Here's a short overview of what to expect if you need to have an ultrasound of your abdomen.

What Is Ultrasound Imaging?

Ultrasound imaging, also called sonography, is a diagnostic technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of internal body parts. Sound waves are produced by a transducer, a hand-held device that the operator will hold near the target body part. The sound waves bounce off tissues and organs in different ways and transmit images back to a viewing monitor. There is no radiation and no side effects other than slight discomfort getting into position.

What Can You Expect When You Need an Ultrasound?

When your doctor recommends an ultrasound of your abdomen, the preparation and procedure will differ depending on which organs he or she wants to look at. For example, if your doctor wants to look at your digestive tract, you may have to refrain from eating or drinking anything for 8 hours prior to the procedure. If he or she wants to look at the kidneys, you may need to drink a lot of water first or even undergo an I.V. injection of water, with or without contrast dye, to watch its passage through the kidneys.

There is typically little preparation for an ultrasound. You might have the procedure done in the doctor's office, a hospital, or an imaging facility. You may be asked to wear loose-fitting clothing, or you might need to change into a hospital gown.

For an abdominal ultrasound, you'll need to lie on your back on a table near the ultrasound device. Most likely, you'll be required to change positions several times to get different views. The ultrasound technician or your doctor will place a small amount of jelly on the skin above the organ to be viewed. You'll be asked not to breathe or move during the few seconds it takes to snap each image. Depending on what conditions and organs your doctor wants to view, the entire process can take from 15 minutes to an hour or more. You should be able to leave, even drive, shortly after the procedure.

Ultrasound imaging is a valuable tool in your physician's arsenal of diagnostic tools. With this overview of the process, you can see there is no reason to fear the process, other than finding out what is wrong. And the sooner you do that, the quicker you can begin treatment, and the quicker you can get on with your life. For more information, contact a company such as Physiologix Health Services.