Ultrasound scans use sound waves to create a picture of a part of the body. You might have an ultrasound to look for changes in your lymph nodes (glands), liver or spleen. You also might have it to help find a vein for some
How you have an ultrasound scan
The ultrasound scanner has a microphone that gives off sound waves. The sound waves bounce off the organs inside your body, and the microphone picks them up. The microphone links to a computer that turns the sound waves into a picture on the screen.
Ultrasound scans are completely painless. You usually have the scan in the hospital x-ray department by a sonographer. A sonographer is a trained professional who is specialised in ultrasound scanning.
Preparing for your scan
Your doctor or nurse gives you instructions on how to prepare for your scan. You might need to stop eating for 6 hours beforehand. Or they might ask you to drink plenty of water so that you have a full bladder for the scan.
Take your medicines as normal unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Before the scan
When you arrive at the clinic a staff member might ask you to take off your upper clothing and put on a hospital gown. You lie on a couch for the test.
During the scan
The sonographer puts a cold lubricating gel on the skin over the area they are checking. Then they gently rub the handheld probe over your skin. The gel helps the probe to slide over your skin so that the sonographer gets clear pictures on the screen.
You might feel a little pressure when the sonographer moves the probe around. Tell them if this is uncomfortable.
An ultrasound scan can take up to 45 minutes. The sonographer might ask you to change position a few times, so they can get the clearest pictures.
You can have a family member or a friend with you while you have the scan.
What happens afterwards
After the test you go back to the ward if you are an inpatient, or you can return home. You can eat and drink normally.
An ultrasound scan is a very safe procedure. It doesn’t involve radiation and there are usually no side effects.
Getting your results
Ask your doctor when to expect your results and how you will receive them.
Waiting for test results can be a worrying time. You might have contact details for a specialist nurse and you can ask them for information. It may help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.