Ultrasound scan for soft tissue sarcomas

Ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to create a picture of a part of the body. An ultrasound scan shows blood flow and changes in your soft tissue.

How does it work?

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.

Diagram of an 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

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.

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

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

What happens

Before your scan

When you arrive at the clinic a staff member might ask you to take off your clothing and put on a hospital gown. You lie on a couch for the test.

During your scan

The sonographer puts a cold lubricating gel over the area. 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 the area that is being scanned. Tell them if it is uncomfortable.

An 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

An ultrasound scan is a very safe procedure. It doesn’t involve radiation and there are usually no side effects.

Getting your results

Waiting for results can make you anxious. You can ask your doctor or nurse how long it will take to get the results. Contact the doctor who arranged the test if you haven't heard anything after a couple of weeks. It might help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.

You can also contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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