An ultrasound scan is a procedure, where a machine produces high frequency sound waves to create an image on a screen showing the inside of your body. They are most commonly used to view babies inside the mother’s womb, but can also be used to diagnose many other conditions and to help guide surgeons during operations. Thousands of ultrasound scans are carried out each year, they are painless procedures and are not known to carry any risks.
A small device called an ultrasound probe is used; this probe emits high-frequency sound waves. The frequency of these sound waves is too high for the human ear to hear these sound waves, but when they are reflected off different parts of the body, they create ‘echoes’ that are then picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image that is displayed on a screen during the scan. The scan can take anywhere from 15-45 minutes.
Before the scan, the doctor may ask you to drink water and not go to the toilet. This is because a full bladder helps improve the quality of the image during that scan. If you are having a scan of your digestive system you may be asked not to eat before the scan. Depending on the area being scanned, you may be asked to remove your clothing and wear a special hospital gown.
You can usually go straight home after an ultrasound scan. You may be told the results of the scan as soon as it has been carried out, but sometimes the images need to be viewed by a specialist doctor, called a radiologist who will write a detailed report on the images. If you are having a scan of a baby, you can usually get print outs of the images and sometimes even a movie of the scan. A doctor who specialises in maternity medicine, called an obstetrics and gynaecology doctor, will be able to give you further information on the ultrasound scan procedure.
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Doctify Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.