Ultrasound is a non-invasive scan used to monitor and diagnose conditions in many parts of the body. Some men's and women's health tests including testicular, gynaecological and pregnancy scans are carried out using ultrasound.
An ultrasound scan uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of the interior of the human body. These images are displayed on a monitor and can then be stored electronically.
The scanner uses the same technology as the sonar used by ships. During your scan a probe is passed over an area of your body. The sound waves bounce off internal organs and are passed back through the microphone to a computer. The computer turns these sound waves into images that are displayed on a monitor.
What is ultrasound used for?
Ultrasound is used for a wide variety of scans, including:
- Musculoskeletal ultrasound
- Breast ultrasound
- Testicular ultrasound
- Endoscopic ultrasound
- Gynaecological ultrasound
Preparing for ultrasound scanning
You may be asked to remove some of your clothing and put on a hospital gown. For particular scans, you may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking prior to the procedure. If you are having your uterus scanned you may be asked to attend the appointment with a full bladder. This acts as an ultrasound window and allows better visualisation of the pelvic organs. Bladder scans will also require a full bladder - but don’t worry there is a toilet nearby so you can empty your bladder immediately following the scan.
What happens during ultrasound scanning?
An ultrasound scan is painless. Depending on what area of the body is being scanned this procedure can take from 15 to 30 minutes. A consultant radiologist will perform the scan and a healthcare assistant will be in the room to assist you and the consultant.
A clear gel will be spread on the area to be scanned. This gel helps to transmit the sound waves to the probe. The probe is pressed onto your skin and moved it back and forth over the area being scanned. The scan will appear on the monitor. Although ultrasound images can be very difficult to read and interpret, you are welcome to view the images during the scan. You may be asked to take deep breaths or to move into different positions to get different images.
If you have any questions or concerns about your particular scan or the preparation, be sure to call us using the number on your appointment letter.
Are ultrasound scans dangerous?
Ultrasound scanning is not dangerous and has no known side effects, it is used during pregnancy.
When will I find out the results?
For some types of scans, our staff will be able to explain the images and results to you during or just after the scan. In other cases, a detailed analysis may be needed.
Our radiologist will review the images and send a report on the findings to your doctor or health professional. Be sure and ask how long you should expect to wait for the results before you leave.
Ultrasound consultants at Cambridge Hospital
4 Trumpington Road, Cambridge, CB2 8AF
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