What is an ultrasound?
Ultrasound imaging, or sonography, uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs and systems inside your body. Ultrasounds help diagnose a variety of conditions and symptoms such as pain, swelling, and infection. They can examine many internal organs and assess organ abnormalities.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. It can be used to assess cardiac performance, irregular heartbeats, or valve function as well as detect blood clots, congenital heart defects, or other conditions. Echocardiograms can also monitor blood flow through the heart.
What can I expect?
Ultrasounds are safe and painless, with no exposure to radiation. During the test, the technologist uses a hand-held probe called a transducer that sends out sound waves. The waves reflect off of fluids and soft tissues within your body and back to the transducer, producing an image on the computer.
You will be asked to lie on an examining table while the technologist applies a clear gel to your skin. This eliminates air between the transducer and your body and will be wiped off once the ultrasound is complete.
How should I prepare?
Depending on the area being examined, you may be asked to drink water and refrain from eating or urinating before the exam. The scheduler will give you any necessary instructions when your appointment is made. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You will need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined.
What long will it take?
Most ultrasounds take 15 to 45 minutes to complete, depending on the type of exam. Afterwards, you may be asked to wait briefly while the technologist determines if the radiologist would like additional images.