What Is Ultrasound Imaging?
Ultrasound, also called sonography, involves exposing a part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (x-ray). Ultrasound images can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.
Common Uses Of Ultrasound Exams
Abdominal ultrasound imaging is performed to evaluate the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, abdominal aorta and other blood vessels of the abdomen to help diagnose conditions, such as abdominal pains, inflamed appendix, enlarged abdominal organ, stones in the gallbladder or kidney, or an aneurysm in the aorta. Ultrasound may also be used for guiding procedures such as needle biopsies in which needles are used to extract a sample of cells from organs for laboratory testing, and assisting in the assessment of damage caused by illness.
Patient Preparation For An Ultrasound Exam
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam
- Remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined. You may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure.
- Tell your doctor if you have had a barium enema or a series of upper GI (gastrointestinal) tests within the past two days. Barium that remains in the intestines can interfere with the ultrasound test.
Depending on the type of ultrasound you are having, other preparations are required.
- For all ultrasound exams of the abdomen, liver, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas, you will need to fast (nothing to eat or drink) after midnight the night (or at least 8 hours) before your exam
- For ultrasound exams of the pelvis you will need to drink (finish) 32 ounces (4 to 6 glasses) of water one hour before the test to fill your bladder
- For ultrasound exams of the aorta, you will need to fast (nothing to eat or drink) after midnight the night (or at least 8 hours) before your exam
- For renal (kidney) ultrasound exams, the day before your exam, you will need to
- Follow a clear liquid diet with no red dye foods for supper
- Take two Dulcolax (laxative) tablets at 4:00pm the day before
- Fast (nothing to eat or drink) after midnight the night (or at least 8 hours) before your exam.