Mercy Regional Health Center
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Ultrasound

What is ultrasound?
How does ultrasound imaging work?

What happens during the exam?
How else is ultrasound used?
How do I prepare for the procedure?
What are the risks?
Will I be able to feel the scan?
How long does the scan take?

How did ultrasound use begin?
What are some common uses for ultrasound imaging?
When will I get my exam results?

 
 
What is ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a diagnostic testing procedure that gathers information (images and sound) about the inside of your body. It is a safe, painless way to obtain detailed information that helps your doctor assess your medical condition.
 
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How does ultrasound imaging work?
A handheld probe that looks like a microphone is used to pulse high-frequency radio waves into your body. Humans cannot hear these sound waves. Either a specially trained technologist (an ultrasonographer) or a doctor specially trained in analyzing ultrasound images (a radiologist) may conduct the exam.
 
The ultrasound machine measures the way the sound waves bounce off your body's internal structures. It translates these sound waves on a TV monitor into pictures called sonograms. With special training, a radiologist can look at these sonograms and see both normal and abnormal structures in the body.

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What happens during the exam?
Ultrasound can be used to take images of many different parts of your body. The probe will be placed on the skin near the area being imaged. When the probe is used outside the body, you will have a gel put on the area to help sound waves pass into your body.
 
If internal imaging of the pelvic area is needed, a special probe, less than an inch wide, is covered in latex and placed inside either the rectum or vagina.
 
Regardless of where you are going to be scanned, medical staff will be with you the entire time during the scan. When the area being examined is seen on the monitor, still pictures will be captured of each key image for the record. You may see images of your organs on the monitor. The sonographer can answer questions about the test process. The radiologist will provide a written report of your exam to your doctor.

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How else is ultrasound used?
Duplex/Doppler ultrasound gives audio and visual feedback to the doctor. This signal can help diagnose the health of the blood flow in the body.

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How do I prepare for the procedure?
Please arrive at least 20 minutes before your appointment to be checked in for your exam. You may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
 
Depending on the area that is going to be imaged, your doctor may ask you to drink water for a full bladder and wait to go to the bathroom until after the exam.
 
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What are the risks?
There are no documented risks from the use of ultrasound for diagnostic exams.

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Will I be able to feel the scan?
You will not feel the ultrasound waves during the scan. You may feel some pressure from the probe. If the test causes any pain, let the sonographer know. If you are receiving an internal scan, you may feel a little brief discomfort while the scan is being performed.

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How long does the scan take?
It may take 15 to 45 minutes for the exam, depending on what your doctor ordered. You may immediately go back to your normal activities.

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How did ultrasound use begin?
The first ultrasound experts were animals, such as dolphins and bats. They send out sounds and interpret the echoes to determine their location. Medical use of ultrasound began in the 1960s.

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What are some common uses for ultrasound imaging?
Some common uses include examination of abnormal masses or tumors, looking for stroke risk or heart disease, evaluating unexplained pain, fetal monitoring, placement of biopsy needles and helping a surgeon place special cancer-destroying devices into place.

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When will I get my exam results?
The radiologist will review your test results and provide a written report to your doctor. Reports will be forwarded to your doctor in a timely manner. Please follow up with your doctor to get your test results.

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