What is abdominal ultrasound scanning?
Ultrasound scanning, also called ultrasound imaging or sonography, is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high-frequency sound waves. The sound waves are recorded and displayed as a real-time image. No ionizing radiation is involved. Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show movement of internal tissues and organs, and enable physicians to see blood flow.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
Ultrasound imaging is used extensively for evaluating the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and blood vessels of the abdomen. Because it provides real-time images, it can also be used to:
• Guide procedures such as needle biopsies, in which a needle is used to sample cells from an organ for laboratory testing;
• Help a physician determine the source of abdominal pain, such as stones in the gallbladder or kidney, or an inflamed appendix;
• Help identify the cause for enlargement of an abdominal organ.
Doppler ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound study used to examine major blood vessels. These images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
• Blockages to blood flow, such as clots
• Build-up of plaque inside the vessel
• Congenital malformations
With knowledge about the speed and volume of blood flow gained from ultrasound imaging, the physician often can determine whether you are a good candidate for a procedure such as angioplasty.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. For some scans, your doctor may instruct you not to eat or drink for 12 hours before your appointment. For others, you may be asked to drink several glasses of water two hours prior to your exam and to avoid urinating so that your bladder is full when scanning begins
What does the equipment look like?
Ultrasound scanners consist of a console containing a computer and other electronic equipment, a video display screen, and a transducer that is used to scan the body. The transducer is a small hand-held device about the size of a bar of soap attached to the scanner by a cord. The radiologist or sonographer will spread a lubricating gel on your abdomen in the area being examined, and then press the transducer firmly against your skin to obtain images.
The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a nearby screen that looks much like a computer or television monitor. The radiologist or sonographer watches this screen during an examination; often, you will be able to see it as well.
What will I experience during the procedure?
Ultrasound imaging of the abdomen is fast, easy and painless. There may be varying degrees of discomfort from pressure as the radiologist or sonographer guides the transducer over your abdomen, especially if you are required to have a full bladder. The examination usually takes less than 30 minutes.
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
A radiologist, who is a physician experienced in ultrasound and other imaging examinations, will analyze and interpret the ultrasound images. The radiologist will then send a signed report to your attending physician. Results can be obtained 12-24 hours after the procedure is completed. Your physician’s office will inform you about how to obtain your results.
The Ultrasound Room is located at the Upper Ground Floor. For inquiries, please call us at (632) 771-9000 ext. 8116.