Ultrasound Explained

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Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves. Using a transducer, that both sends out sound waves and records the echoing waves.

Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays). Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs. Diagnostic ultrasound is used to detect changes in the appearance of organs and tissues and to assess the blood flow in the body.

Common uses of ultrasound include:

  • Evaluating symptoms such as pain, swelling, and infection
  • Examining many of the body’s internal organs, including heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and urinary bladder
  • Obstetrics scans during stages of pregnancy (early scans and 3/4D scans of baby’s face).
  • To assess specific joints in the knees, hands, wrists, feet/ankles and tendons in the shoulders and muscle groups  in the body such as the thigh


1. Is an ultrasound painful?

There is practically no discomfort to the patient, aside from the light pressure the sonographer may apply with the ultrasound probe.

2. What are the risks involved with ultrasound?

The noninvasive nature of ultrasound is a safe imaging tool to look at the developing baby in the uterus during pregnancy or to assess the soft tissue organs in the body.

3. How much time does it take?

Most ultrasound studies can be fully completed within 20-30 minutes.

What to Expect

  • Most ultrasound examinations are painless, fast, and easy. The patient is positioned lying face-up on an examination table that can be tilted or moved. The sonographer will apply some water-based gel on your skin and then place the transducer firmly against your body, moving it back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.
  • There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. If scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, however, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer.



Generally, no preparation is needed. If your doctor has ordered a test to rule out abdominal issues such as gallbladder or liver assessment or abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), we require that you do not take anything by mouth after midnight except for oral medication (with water if necessary).

For the pelvic examinations such as uterus and kidneys and urinary bladder areas, it is best to drink 1 litre of water 30-40 minutes prior to the scan appointment. You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam. You may need to remove all clothing and jewellery in the area to be examined. You also may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure.