Preparing for Ultrasound Scans – An Overview

Preparing for Ultrasound Scans – An Overview

An ultrasound scan (also called sonogram) is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs and structures inside your body. Unlike other diagnostic ultrasound imaging techniques, ultrasound scanning is a safe, non-invasive technique that does not use ionizing radiation. Medical imaging centers in Queens, New York area offer effective non-invasive imaging techniques that help physicians diagnose and treat various medical conditions in different parts of the body.

How Does General Ultrasound Work?

Ultrasound imaging, (also called ultrasound scanning or sonography) involves the use of a small device called an “ultrasound probe” which produces high-frequency sound waves. These sound waves cannot be heard. However, when they reflect on different parts of the body, they create “echoes” that are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image. The images are displayed on a monitor while the scan is carried out. Since ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through the blood vessels.

Generally, most people associate this procedure with pregnancy, as these scans can provide an expectant mother with the first view of her unborn child. However, this procedure can also detect several abnormalities and provide a detailed view of various internal organs of the body. It can–

  • Detect abnormalities of heart structures such as the heart valves
  • Diagnose problems of internal organs such as liver, gallbladder, pancreas, thyroid gland, lymph nodes, ovaries, testes, kidneys, bladder and appendix.
  • Help determine the nature of breast lumps
  • Diagnose problems with muscles, tendons and joints such as carpal tunnel syndrome, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow and Morton’s neuroma.
  • Detect abnormal widening of blood vessels (aneurysms)
  • As ultrasound scans provide real-time images, they are also used to guide procedures like internal biopsies in which a needle is used to obtain samples of tissues or cells from the body for laboratory testing.

    Preparing for an Ultrasound Scan

Preparation for the procedure will depend on the type of examination and the specific area that is being scanned. For some types of scans, physicians may ask patients to follow certain instructions to help improve the quality of images produced.

  • For instance, if the abdominal area is to be scanned, physicians may ask patients to fast for 8-12 hours before the ultrasound.You may be asked to eat a low-fiber diet for a day or so before the day of the test. Undigested food can block the sound waves, making it difficult for the technician to get a clear visualization of various organ parts.
  • Try to avoid eating for several hours before the scanif you are taking a scan of digestive system, including liver and gall bladder.
  • Drink plenty of water to fill the bladder and do not go to the toilet until after the scan – if a scan is done for pregnancy or your pelvic area.
  • Take your medicines as normal unless otherwise indicated by the physician. Be sure to inform the physician about any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements that you consume before the exam.
  • Wear comfortable and loose clothing. Remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined.

Most ultrasound medical imaging techniques are quick, easy, and painless. The procedure may take about 20 to 60 minutes. It’s important for patients to follow the physician’s instructions and ask any questions or queries they have before beginning the procedure. Additional preparations (if any, required) will be recommended by the physicians and may depend on the type of ultrasound exam.