UKNOW’s Docs Procedures Ultrasound

What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is another way doctors are able to take a look inside your body. Invisible sound waves are bounced off the places in your body your doctor needs to check out. You will not feel or hear these sound waves. They show a special type of picture of the part of your body the doctor wants to look at.

Why do I need to have an Ultrasound?

The pictures of your body parts that the doctor needs to see sometimes cannot be seen by an X-Ray, so an ultrasound needs to be used.

What does an Ultrasound machine look like?

An ultrasound machine looks like a computer. The sonographer (the person taking the picture) uses a smooth flat wand and a special gel to take the picture. The gel and wand lets the computer hear the sound waves from your body. The pictures are sent to a special computer for the radiologist to look at. The radiologist is a special doctor who looks at the ultrasound pictures.

What happens when I have an Ultrasound?

A porter will come to bring you to the special room to have the ultrasound.  You will have to lift up your shirt so the sonographer can put the gel on your skin. They are very careful to make sure they do not get any gel on your clothes.

The technologist will put gel over the part of your body that the doctor wants to see. Next, she will move the smooth, flat wand over that part of your body. The wand is attached to the computer.  While the sonographer moves the wand over your body part, you will be able to see a wavy and fuzzy image on the screen. While she is moving the wand, she will also be touching buttons on the computer?s keyboard. Once the pictures are done, the technologist will wipe the gel off with a soft towel.

What will the Ultrasound feel like?

The ultrasound will not hurt, but it may tickle a little. The gel may feel a little cool and sticky.  The wand may press down onto your body a little bit, but it will not hurt.  Remember to lie still so they can get a clear picture. Thinking about your favourite thing to do may help you stay still. The sonographer may ask you to take a big breath in and hold it to help get a good picture.

Preparing for the test

Your nurse will give you the information you need to help you get ready to have your ultrasound. Depending on what they are taking a picture of, sometimes you are not allowed to eat anything before the ultrasound.

Other times they will tell you to drink a lot of water. This can help to make the picture they take clearer. While they are moving the wand over your stomach, you may feel that you have to go to the bathroom.  If you can, try to hold your pee until the test is done.   Don?t be afraid to tell someone if you cannot hold your pee. Once you tell the sonographer, they will do their best of finish taking pictures of your belly so you can go to the bathroom.

Sometimes you may have to do nothing to get ready for an ultrasound.


If you have any questions about the test, always ask!

This content has been reviewed and approved by health care team members at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. All content is for educational purposes only. For further information, please speak with your health care team.

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