What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasound is the term used for high-frequency soundwaves. Ultrasound examinations use these sound waves to produce a picture or image onto a screen showing the inside of your body.

An ultrasound is carried out by a trained health professional (sonographer, radiologist or sonologist) using a smooth, hand-held device called a transducer that they move across the body with a sliding and rotating action. The transducer transmits the high-frequency sound waves into your body. Different sound waves are reflected from different soft tissue, structures or parts in the body in different ways. These sound waves are converted to electrical impulses that  produce a moving image displayed on a screen.

How do I prepare for an ultrasound?

This will depend on the type of ultrasound that is requested. Read any instructions given to you by your doctor, imaging practice or hospital where you will be having the ultrasound.

Wear clothing that will provide easy access to the area that is being imaged.

IMPORTANT: If you have diabetes or you are on any medications prescribed by your doctor, or any other medication you think might affect the examination (including any over-the-counter medicines or complementary therapies, such as vitamins, etc.), contact the imaging practice or hospital for any special preparation instructions.

If a baby, infant or child (up to 18 years) is having an ultrasound, special instructions apply. Again, contact the imaging practice or hospital to ensure you receive the instructions appropriate to your child’s age. This will ensure the best test is carried out at minimum discomfort to your child.

How long does an ultrasound take?

Generally, an ultrasound examination will take approximately 30 minutes. Some examinations, especially vascular imaging (blood vessel-related), may take longer because of the detailed imaging that is required, and the number and size of the organ or organs being examined.