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What is Ultrasound Imaging?

Ultrasound (US) imaging or Ultrasound scanning or Sonography is a method of seeing inside the body using high-frequency sound waves. The sound waves are recorded and displayed as real-time visual images. No radiation is used in Ultrasound imaging.

Ultrasound is a noninvasive method used to examine internal body organs. We routinely image gallbladder, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, venous or arterial vessels. Ultrasound is also the preferred image modality for diagnosis and monitoring of pregnant women and their unborn infants.

What are the Preps for Ultrasound Imaging?

Patients should be instructed to wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing for an Ultrasound procedure. Ultrasound preps vary. Some scans require patients to be held NPO after midnight while others will require patients to drink up to six glasses of water and to arrive with a full bladder.

Ultrasound Prep Guide

Procedure Prep Estimate Time of Exam

AM Prep - NPO after midnight until appointment
Diabetic patient should not take insulin

PM Prep - NPO 6 hours prior to appointment

20 minutes

AM Prep - NPO after midnight until appointment

Diabetic patients should not take insulin

20 to 30 minutes

Patient must have full bladder upon arrival

Drink 3 to 6 large glasses of tap water 1 hour prior to appointment

30 minutes
Renal Fluids are encouraged unless patient is scheduled for IVP also which prep is NPO 30 minutes
Thyroid May continue with routine meals and medication 30 minutes
Transcranial Doppler (TCD) No Prep 1 hour minimum
Thoracentesis/Paracentesis No prep 20 minutes
Renal Biopsy Clear liquids 30-45 minutes
Biopsy (Liver, etc) Clear liquids 20 minutes
Carotid No Prep 30 minutes
Breast May continue with routine meals and medication 30 minutes

Patient should have full bladder upon arrival

Drink 3 to 6 large glasses of tap water 1 hour prior to appointment

If transvaginal exam is indicated patient will empty bladder

30 minutes
Scrotal May continue with routine meals and medication 30 minutes
Color Flow Venous

May continue with routine meals and medication

This is Ultrasound evaluation of venous blood flow in the leg or legs.

30-45 minutes per exam

How does Ultrasound work?

Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by ships or submarines at sea. Sound waves are generated and echoes are recorded. The Ultrasound transducer generates sound waves (like a speaker) and records the returning echoes (like a microphone). As the sound passes through the body echoes are produced that can be used to identify the size, shape, and density of anatomy inside the body. These echoes are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on a TV monitor. The live images can be recorded on videotape or captured as a still image on film.

How is the Ultrasound Exam performed?

The patient is positioned usually supine on an examination table and an Ultrasound Technologist will apply a liquid gel to the skin. The gel will help maintain close contact between the skin and transducer. This will eliminate any air pockets and ensure sound waves are freely conducted into and out of the body. The Technologist will press the transducer firmly against the skin and sweeps it back and forth over the area of interest.

For Pelvis or Obstetric procedures, if requested by the referring physician or radiologist, a transvaginal scan will be performed. The endovaginal transducer is placed in the vagina. This technique provides improved images of the uterus and ovaries. It is especially useful in early pregnancy.

What are common uses of Ultrasound Imaging?

  • Gallbladder evaluation for, Gallstones/Gallbladder disease
  • Liver, Spleen, Pancreas, Kidney and Bladder evaluation
  • Evaluate blood flow or blockages (carotid, renal, extremities)
  • Guidance for needle Biopsy
  • Establish fetal age, living embryo or fetus
  • Determine if there is multiple pregnancies
  • Determine if mass or tumor is solid or cystic (breast, liver, kidney or body organs)

Radiology Report Turnaround Process

A Radiologist, who is a physician experienced in Ultrasound Imaging and other radiology procedures will analyze the images and send a report to the patient’s referring physician. The referring physician will inform the patient of the Ultrasound findings.

We have a departmental goal of 6 hours for Radiology Report Turnaround time. We measure the time from radiology request entry to the time the transcriptionist types the final report. The radiology report is also available via our Digital Dictation System, immediately after Radiologist completes dictation. The DVI system phone number is 377-3745. You must first enter your six (6) digit PIN number, your department number, and the patient’s medical record number to access the report.

What are the Benefits VS Risks?


  • Ultrasound Imaging is painless and non-invasive
  • Provides real-time imaging to visualize movement and live function of body organs & blood vessels
  • Preferred image modality for diagnosis and monitoring of pregnant women and their unborn infants
  • No ionizing radiation and low cost
  • No iodine contrast used


  • For standard diagnostic ultrasound there are no known harmful effects