What is an Ultrasound?
Ultrasound imaging (sonography), is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high-frequency sound waves. These waves are too high-pitched for the human ear to hear, but the waves echo as they hit a dense object, such as an organ. The sound wave echoes are recorded and reflected as images which are viewed in real-time, on a monitor. Ultrasound is safe and no radiation is involved in imaging.
Ultrasound is used to examine gastrointestinal organs including, but not limited to, the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and bladder.
What are some common uses of Ultrasound imaging?
Ultrasound imaging is used extensively for evaluating pelvic and abdominal organs. The images produced can help with diagnosing and further evaluating a variety of Gastrointestinal problems.
What are the benefits of Ultrasound?
- Non-invasive and is usually painless
- Uses high frequency sound waves and is relatively safe
- Uses no ionizing radiation
- Provides real-time imaging which can visualize structure, movement and live function of Abdominal and Pelvic organs
What are the Risks involved?
Ultrasound is a safe procedure and has no known risks. The gel used during the procedure may be sticky and maybe uncomfortable for some patients, but it should not cause any pain.
If you are currently experiencing pain in the abdominal/pelvic area, you may feel slight discomfort during the procedure.
How to I prepare for an Abdominal/Pelvic Ultrasound?
Preparing for your ultrasound appointment depends on the ultrasound order from your Gastroenterologist. Typically, for a general abdominal ultrasound you will be asked to not eat or drink any liquids, except water, 6-8 hours before your procedure. Usual medications should be taken on time with sips of water.
For ultrasound of lower abdomen/pelvis you will be asked to drink 12 oz of water about an hour ahead so the bladder is full when exam is done.
For an ultrasound of the gallbladder, liver, pancreas, or spleen, you may be instructed to eat a fat-free meal the evening before your test, and start fasting after dinner.
How is the test performed?
Before an abdominal/pelvic ultrasound, you maybe be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that might interfere with the scan. Please inform your sonographer or one of our medical staff if you prefer to have a medical chaperone during the procedure.
You will asked to lie down on the exam table and expose the area to be imaged. You will be given a medical drape sheet to cover the area exposed for imaging.
An ultrasound technician (sonographer) will put a special gel on your abdomen and/or pelvic area. The gel acts as a conductor and prevents air pockets from forming between the skin and the ultrasound transducer (probe).
If you’re having pain in your abdomen, you may feel slight discomfort during an ultrasound. Make sure to let your technician know right away if the pain becomes severe.
When the procedure is done, the gel will be wiped off. The procedure usually lasts for 15-20 minutes.
What factors or conditions may interfere with ultrasound images/results?
- Severe obesity
- Food inside the stomach
- Excess intestinal gas
What happens after the test?
A radiologist will interpret your ultrasound images. Your gastroenterologist will discuss the results with you either by phone, through the portal or at a follow-up appointment. If necessary, your doctor may ask for another follow-up scan or other imaging tests/modalities to diagnose or further evaluate your condition.