Abdominal Ultrasound

Q: What preparation is required for the exam?
Do not eat solid food after midnight on the night prior to your exam. A minimal amount of water is allowed particularly if you need to take medications. Routine medications should be taken. Diabetic patients should contact their doctor for advice regarding the fasting required for the exam.

Q: What will the technologists scan?
A routine abdominal ultrasound examination will look at all of the major organs in the abdomen. As such, most scans will evaluate regions where you are having symptoms as well as regions where you are not. This is done to provide as complete an assessment as possible. In some cases, a limited scan is performed to evaluate only 1 or 2 organs when this is appropriate.

Q: How does this exam differ from an x-ray of the abdomen.
The major organs of the abdomen are poorly seen by x-ray. Ultrasound provides a safe and convenient method of evaluating these organs. There is no radiation used.

Q: Will the ultrasound technologist inform me of the results?
Generally, no. Your doctor will discuss the results of the exam with you.

Pelvic Ultrasounds

Q: What preparation is required for the exam?
Your bladder needs to be full for this exam. Drink 32 ounces of water (4 eight ounce glasses) before the exam. Start drinking it 90 minutes before the exam and finish drinking it one hour before the exam. Do not urinate prior to the exam!

Q: What is the purpose of filling the bladder?
Pelvic ultrasounds rely upon a full bladder in order to use it as a "window" to look through to see the pelvic structures. Without a full bladder, the pelvic organs are often very difficult to see well.

Q: What types of pelvic ultrasounds are there?
Almost all pelvic ultrasounds begin with a standard type of scan with the ultrasound probe applied to the skin over the pelvic region. In the case of female patients, the technologist may also ask the patient to undergo a second type of ultrasound called a "transvaginal" exam. This phase of the exam is often necessary to perform in order to clarify findings seen on the standard exam. The technologist will explain this simple exam to you if it is felt that you might benefit from it.

Q: Will the ultrasound technologist inform me of the results?
Generally, no. Your doctor will discuss the results of the exam with you.

Obstetrical Ultrasounds

Q: What preparation is required for the exam?
Your bladder needs to be full for this exam. Drink 32 ounces of water (4 eight ounce glasses) before the exam. Start drinking it 90 minutes before the exam and finish drinking it one hour before the exam. Do not urinate prior to the exam! In the latter half of pregnancy (beyond 24 weeks), you may find it uncomfortable to fill your bladder as advised above. Just do your best to fill your bladder to some extent if you can in such a case.

Q: What is the purpose of filling the bladder?
A: A full bladder is critical in early pregnancies in order to see the pregnancy well. At later stages of the pregnancy some degree of bladder filling is often helpful to assess the position of the placenta and fetus.

Q: Is ultrasound in any way harmful to the pregnancy?
No. Ultrasound has been extensively evaluated for its safety and does not pose any risks to pregnancies.

Q: Will the technologist tell me the sex of the baby?
Discuss this with the technologist doing the examination. In some cases the determination of the baby's sex is easy, while in others it is difficult or impossible. Determination of the baby's sex is dependent upon factors such as the position of the baby, age of the pregnancy, and how well the patient scans overall. In some cases it is simply impossible to reliably determine gender.

Q: Can my family watch the exam?
This type of examination requires considerable concentration on the part of the ultrasound technologist. It can be very distracting for the technologist to have family members in the exam room while the examination is being done. At the end of the examination the technologist will be happy to bring family members in and show them the pregnancy. Please remember, this examination is first and foremost a medical examination.

Q: Can I get a souvenir picture of the baby?
The technologist will make every effort to provide you with a picture of the fetus. If a picture cannot be given for some reason, the technologist will explain why. There is no charge for pictures.

Q: Will the ultrasound technologist inform me of the results?
Generally, no. Your doctor will discuss the results of the exam with you. Under certain circumstances the technologist may discuss some aspects of the exam with you or may ask one of the radiologists in the department to speak with you if it is felt that you need to be made aware of the results of the exam before leaving the department.

Vascular Ultrasound:

Q: What preparation is required for this exam?
None.

Q: Why does the ultrasound machine make funny noises during the exam?
The unusual noises the ultrasound machine makes are audible signals that represent the blood flow within the arteries and veins being examined. The sounds you hear are of importance to the technologist doing the exam.

Q: Does this exam take the place of an angiogram?
Vascular ultrasound is often used as a screening exam in order to evaluate which patients might benefit from the additional information obtained from angiography. In some patients with severe disease of the arteries, a determination can often be made as to whether an angiogram will offer anything additional, or in the case of a patients with normal ultrasound studies, whether it is required at all.

Muskuloskeletal Ultrasound:

Q: How is this kind of exam different from an x-ray?
X-ray examinations of muskuloskeletal structures primarily demonstrate the bones. The joints are only seen in a limited fashion. The soft tissue structures are poorly seen with x-ray. Ultrasound provides a much better examination of the soft tissue structures but cannot examine bone. The two exams are complimentary to one another.

Q:What preparation is required for the test?
None.

Q: What will the technologist scan for this exam?
Often, the technologist will scan both joints of a given type (shoulder, knee etc...) even though there is only discomfort on one side. Comparison of the appearance of both the normal and symptomatic joints is very important in evaluating abnormalities on this type of ultrasound.

 
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