What to Expect During Your Diagnostic Ultrasound

Sep 01, 2023
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What to Expect During Your Diagnostic Ultrasound

A diagnostic ultrasound is a safe and non-invasive procedure used to gain valuable insights into various medical conditions. When seeking answers about your health, understanding what to expect during a diagnostic ultrasound can help ease any anxieties and make the experience more comfortable. 

Here’s what our team at St. Michael’s Elite Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas, wants you to know about your upcoming diagnostic ultrasound procedure. 

About diagnostic ultrasound

A diagnostic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create real-time images of internal organs, tissues, and blood flow. It's a versatile and widely-used imaging tool that aids our health care team in diagnosing and monitoring a broad range of medical conditions.

You may need a diagnostic ultrasound to examine the following:

  • Kidneys
  • Abdomen
  • Female reproductive organs like the uterus
  • Breasts
  • Thyroid
  • Rectum

The test can find the cause of pain and swelling in these areas. It can also detect blockages, growths, and structural problems and help tell the difference between tumors and benign cysts.

Preparing for your ultrasound

Typically, the preparation for a diagnostic ultrasound is minimal. You usually don’t need to take any special precautions, but for certain abdominal and pelvic ultrasounds, you might be asked to fast for a few hours before the procedure. 

In other cases, such as pregnancy ultrasounds, you might be encouraged to drink water to fill your bladder, which helps improve image quality.

The ultrasound procedure

When you arrive at St. Michael's Elite Hospital ultrasound department, you'll be greeted by a friendly health care professional who explains the procedure and addresses any concerns. You'll likely be asked to change into a hospital gown to ensure unrestricted access to the area being scanned.

You’ll sit or lie on an exam table. Your technician (sonographer) applies a water-based gel to your skin over the area being examined. The gel helps optimize the transmission of sound waves and eliminates air pockets, ensuring better image quality.

Your sonographer glides a small handheld device called a transducer over your gel-coated skin, emitting and receiving sound waves. The transducer picks up the echoes of the sound waves as they bounce back from your internal organs, converting them into real-time images displayed on a monitor.

The procedure length varies depending on the type of ultrasound being performed. Generally, diagnostic ultrasounds are relatively quick and typically take between 15 and 45 minutes.

Safety of ultrasound procedures

Diagnostic ultrasounds are non-invasive and generally painless. You may experience mild discomfort if your technician needs to apply pressure during the exam. If you experience any discomfort or pain, do not hesitate to communicate with the sonographer.

Diagnostic ultrasounds are considered safe for both pregnant women and their unborn babies. The sound waves used in the procedure do not involve ionizing radiation like X-rays, making it a preferred imaging method during pregnancy.

Following your diagnostic ultrasound

Once the procedure is complete, you can resume your regular activities immediately. The sonographer cleans the gel from your skin, and one of our radiologists reviews the images to provide a comprehensive analysis and diagnosis.

If your results are not ready immediately, you’ll be contacted shortly with their findings and your next steps for treatment.

If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming ultrasound or any other medical procedure, do not hesitate to contact St. Michael’s Elite Hospital. Your comfort and well-being are always a top priority for us.