Ultrasound, which is also called sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, is an imaging method using high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body. These images can provide valuable information for diagnosing and treating a variety of diseases and conditions.
Most ultrasound examinations are performing using an ultrasound device outside your body, though some involve placing a device inside your body.
Ultrasounds are performed for a variety of reasons, including to:
Most ultrasound exams require no preparation. However, there are a few exceptions:
Wear loose clothing to your ultrasound appointment. You may be asked to remove jewelry during your ultrasound, so it's a good idea to leave any valuables at home.
Before your ultrasound begins, you may be asked to do the following:
You'll be asked to lie on an examination table.
Gel is applied to your skin over the area being examined. It helps prevent air pockets, which can block the sound waves that create the images. This water-based gel is easy to remove from skin and, if needed, clothing.
A trained technician (sonographer) presses a small, hand-held device (transducer) against the area being studied and moves it as needed to capture the images. The transducer sends sound waves into your body, collects the ones that bounce back and sends them to a computer, which creates the images.
A typical ultrasound exam takes from 30 minutes to an hour.
When your exam is complete, a doctor trained to interpret imaging studies (radiologist) analyzes the images and sends a report to your doctor. Your doctor will share the results with you.
You should be able to return to normal activities immediately after an ultrasound.