What is ultrasound?
Ultrasound is like ordinary sound except it has a frequency (or pitch) higher than human beings can hear. When sent into the body from a transducer (scanner) resting on the patient's skin, the sound is reflected off internal structures. The returning echoes are received by the transducer and converted by an electronic instrument into an image of the internal structures on a viewing screen. Diagnostic ultrasound is commonly called sonography or ultrasonography.
Is ultrasound safe?
There are no known harmful effects associated with the medical use of sonography. Studies in humans have revealed no direct link between the use of diagnostic ultrasound and any adverse outcome. Although the possibility exists that biological effects may be identified in the future, current information indicates that the benefits to patients far outweigh the risks, if any.
Why should I have an ultrasound exam?
There are many reasons for examining the abdomen with ultrasound. Among the more common reasons:To look for causes of upper abdominal pain,
1. To detect gallstones.
2. To determine abnormalities of the liver or spleen.
3. To evaluate the kidneys for blockage, or
4. To look for enlargements (aneurysms) and other abnormalities of abdominal blood vessels
Ultrasound will not always be able to provide all the information your doctor requires. In the cases, additional studies may be required.
Are there any special preparations for the exam?
You should have nothing to eat or drink 8 hours before the exam. This is because food and drink cause gassiness and an adequate exam may be compromised. Sound waves cannot image through gas.
Will it hurt?
There is no pain involved in an ultrasound examination of your abdomen. A gel is applied to your abdomen and the instrument is thetn placed on the skin surface to provide better contact between the transducer and the skin.
How long will it take?
The length of time for the examination will vary depending on the pecific reasons for your examination. For some studies, such as examination of the gall bladder for stone, the study may require only 5-15 minutes. But, for a complete study of all the abdominal organs, 30 minutes or more may be required.