Ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to create a picture of a part of the body.
They can show up changes, including abnormal growths. You might have one to diagnose a cancer or find out if it has spread.
You usually have them in the hospital x-ray department.
Preparing for your scan
Check your appointment letter for any instructions about how to prepare for your scan.
You might need to stop eating for 6 hours beforehand. Let the scan team know if this will be a problem for any reason, for example if you are diabetic.
Take your medicines as normal unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
What to expect
When you arrive at the clinic you might need to take off your upper clothing and put on a hospital gown. You lie on a couch.
During the scan
The sonographer puts a cold lubricating gel over your tummy (abdomen). Then they put the handheld probe on your skin.
They move the probe over your skin. You might feel a little pressure at times. Tell them if it is uncomfortable.
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.
What happens afterwards
You can eat and drink normally after the test. You can go straight home or back to work afterwards.
An ultrasound scan is a very safe procedure. It doesn’t involve radiation and there are usually no side effects.
Getting your results
Your scan will be looked at by a specialist doctor and you should get your results within 1 or 2 weeks. You won't get any results at the time of the scan.
Waiting for test results can make you anxious. Ask your doctor or nurse how long it will take to get them. Contact them if you haven’t heard anything after a couple of weeks.
You might have the contact details for a specialist nurse. You can contact them for information and support if you need to. It may help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.
Contact the doctor that arranged the test if you haven't heard anything after a couple of weeks.