What Is an Ultrasound?
Ultrasound imaging is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high-frequency sound waves applied outside the body. The sound waves are too high-pitched for the human ear to hear, but the waves echo as they hit a dense object, such as an organ. The sound wave echoes are recorded and reflected as images, which can be viewed in real-time, on a monitor. Ultrasound is safe, painless, noninvasive – and best of all, no radiation is involved.
What Are Some Common Uses of Ultrasound Imaging?
Ultrasound is extensively used to examine pelvic, abdominal, and gastrointestinal organs, including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, bladder, and more. The images produced can help with diagnosing and further evaluating a variety of gastrointestinal problems.
What Are the Benefits of Ultrasound?
- Noninvasive, safe, and painless
- Uses no ionizing radiation
- Provides real-time imaging that can allow your doctor to visualize the structure, movement, and function of abdominal and pelvic organs
What Are the Risks Involved?
Ultrasound is a safe procedure with no known risks. If you are currently experiencing pain in the abdominal/pelvic area, you may feel slight discomfort during the ultrasound.
How Do I Prepare for an Abdominal/Pelvic Ultrasound?
Preparing for your ultrasound appointment depends on the ultrasound order from your gastroenterologist.
Typically, for a general abdominal ultrasound, you will be asked to not eat food or drink any liquids, except water, 6-8 hours before your procedure. Your medications can be taken as usual, with small sips of water.
For an ultrasound of the lower abdomen or pelvis, you will be asked to drink 12 ounces of water an hour ahead of the ultrasound, so your bladder is full when the exam is done.
For an ultrasound of your gallbladder, liver, pancreas, or spleen, you may be instructed to eat a fat-free meal the evening before your test, then to start fasting after dinner.
How Is the Test Performed?
Before an abdominal/pelvic ultrasound, you maybe be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that might interfere with the scan. Please inform your sonographer or one of our medical staff if you prefer to have a medical chaperone during the ultrasound.
You will asked to lie down on the exam table and expose the area to be imaged. You will be given a medical drape sheet to cover the area exposed for imaging.
An ultrasound technician (sonographer) will put a special gel on your abdomen and/or pelvic area. The gel acts as a conductor and prevents air pockets from forming between the skin and the handheld ultrasound transducer.
If you’re having pain in your abdomen, you may feel slight discomfort during an ultrasound. Make sure to let your technician know right away if the pain becomes severe.
When the ultrasound is done, the gel will be wiped off. It usually takes just 15-20 minutes to perform an ultrasound.
What Factors or Conditions May Interfere With Ultrasound Images/Results?
- Severe obesity
- Food inside the stomach
- Excess intestinal
What Happens After the Test?
A radiologist will interpret your ultrasound images. Your gastroenterologist will discuss the results with you either by phone, through the patient portal, or at a follow-up appointment. If necessary, your doctor may ask for another follow-up scan or other tests to diagnose or further evaluate your condition.
Schedule your ultrasound by calling the location nearest you.