CHOC Children's Radiology
What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a painless and non-invasive exam that uses harmless sound waves to capture images of organs and other structures inside the body without the use of radiation. During the exam, a hand held instrument, called a transducer, is used to send out sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. The sound waves are reflected off the body structures and created into digital images by the ultrasound machine. The images are then used by a specialized physician called a radiologist to diagnose any medical conditions.
How are ultrasounds performed?
The child and his or her caregiver (parent or legal guardian) are escorted to a dimly lit ultrasound exam room. The ultrasound exam is performed with the child lying down on a soft table. A warm water-based gel is placed on the skin over the area to be studied. The technologist slides the transducer over the area and takes pictures of the underlying organs. The pictures appear on the ultrasound machine screen. (The ultrasound machine looks like a large computer on wheels.) During the exam, the child may be asked to hold his or her breath at times or lay in different positions. It is important to hold as still as possible, so it is a good idea to bring a favorite stuffed animal or book from home. Most ultrasound exams take 30 minutes.
How should patients prepare for an ultrasound exam?
Children should dress in comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. There are different preparation instructions depending on the body part being examined. Some exams may require a full bladder, while others will require the child to restrict food and drinks for a period of time before the exam. Please contact the ordering physician or the Radiology Department at CHOC Children’s for specific instructions.
What happens after the procedure?
A report of the child’s scan will be sent to the doctor who ordered it, usually within 48 hours. (Please contact the doctor who ordered the scan for the results.) Patients should be able to resume normal activities immediately after the procedure unless told otherwise by the child’s doctor.