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Abdominal ultrasound scan

Ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to create a picture of a part of the body.

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.

abdominal ultrasound

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

The scan department staff might ask you to drink plenty before your scan so that you have a comfortably full bladder.

Take any medicines as normal unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

During the scan

The sonographer puts a cold lubricating gel over your abdomen. 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 over your abdomen. Tell them if it is uncomfortable.

An abdominal ultrasound 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. Just let the sonographer know that someone will be with you.

Possible risks

Ultrasound scans are a very safe procedure. It doesn’t involve radiation and there are usually no side effects.

What happens afterwards

You can eat and drink normally after the test.

Getting your results

If the scan shows a molar pregnancy your doctor or midwife will tell you as soon as they can. This can be a shock and very upsetting. Your doctor or midwife will let you know about counselling and other support services. 

Your doctor, midwife or specialist nurse will also tell you about the treatment you will need. This is usually a minor operation to remove the molar pregnancy. 

Information and help