What is an ultrasound?
Ultrasonography, which is sometimes called sonography, uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of soft body structures such as blood vessels, tissue and organs. Ultrasounds are used to see internal organs as they function and test blood flow through various vessels. Ultrasound tests are used to see many parts of the body such as the abdomen, breasts, pelvis, prostate, scrotum, thyroid, parathyroid and vascular system.
What happens during an ultrasound?
Your child will go to a special room for the exam and lie on a comfortable bed. The room may be a little dark so that the person doing the exam can see pictures clearly on a TV screen. A small amount of lotion will be put on your child's skin over the area to be checked.
A transducer, which looks like a microphone, is attached to the ultrasound machine. The technologist doing the exam will gently move the transducer over your child's skin. This does not hurt. The machine makes pictures that are put on a computer so that the doctor can look at them later. It is important that your child holds very still for these pictures. When the exam is finished, the lotion will be wiped off. If you have questions at any time during the exam, please ask.
The test should take between 15 and 30 minutes.
The doctor who ordered the ultrasound will get the results within 24 hours. He or she will share the results with you and your family. You will not receive results from the technologist who performs the test.
How should my child prepare?
How you get your child get ready depends on what body part needs to be checked. Some exams require that children drink lots of water. Other exams require that children not eat breakfast the morning of the exam. For some ultrasound exams, children do not need to do anything special to prepare. Your care provider will give you instructions about preparing your child for this test, but general guidelines follow.
If your child has had a barium or other X-ray study within the last 48 hours, let the doctor know.
If your child is told to have nothing to eat or drink before the exam, follow these directions:
- 0 to 6 months old: nothing to eat or drink three hours before.
- 7 months to 3 years old: nothing to eat or drink four hours before.
- 4 to 6 years old: nothing to eat or drink six hours before.
- 7 years and older: nothing to eat or drink eight hours before.
Visit our teaching sheets page to learn more about your child's test.