Ultrasound

CHOC Children’s radiology department combines individualized care, specialty expertise, and the most advanced technology to obtain the highest quality ultrasounds for your child. Ultrasound is a painless, non-invasive imaging technique that lets us look inside your child’s body without the use of radiation. It uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of organs, muscles, soft tissues and blood vessels.

Technician watching screen while child is having an ultrasound

What is an ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a painless and non-invasive exam that uses harmless sound waves. These sound waves capture images of organs and other structures inside the body without using radiation. During the exam, a hand-held instrument called a transducer sends out sound waves at high frequencies that we can’t hear. The sound waves reflect off the body structures. Next, the ultrasound machine creates them into digital images. Later, a radiologist uses the images to diagnose medical conditions.

When is an ultrasound needed?

Abdominal ultrasound imaging evaluates the:

  • Appendix
  • Stomach/pylorus
  • Liver
  • Gallbladder
  • Spleen
  • Pancreas
  • Intestines
  • Kidneys
  • Bladder
  • Testicles
  • Ovaries
  • Uterus

Ultrasound imaging can also:

  • Help a physician determine the source of abdominal pain (eg. gallstones, kidney stones, abscesses or an inflamed appendix)
  • Guide procedures. For example, ultrasound can guide needle placement in biopsies and to sample organ cells for lab testing.
  • Help identify the presence and cause of an apparent enlarged abdominal organ
  • Identify the location of abnormal fluid in the abdomen
  • Help identify causes of vomiting in young infants.

How are ultrasounds performed?

Our staff will escort the patient and caregiver to an ultrasound exam room. During the ultrasound exam, the child is lying down on a soft table. Then, the technologist applies warm water-based gel on the skin over the studied area. The technologist slides the transducer over the area and takes pictures of the underlying organs. Pictures will appear on the ultrasound machine screen. Throughout the exam, the child may need to hold his or her breath at times or lay in different positions. It is important to hold as still as possible. Most ultrasound exams take 30 minutes.

Can an ultrasound harm my child?

For standard diagnostic ultrasounds, there are no known harmful effects on humans.

ACR Diagnostic Imaging Center of Excellence

  • CHOC Children’s has been designated a Diagnostic Imaging Center of Excellence® (DICOE) by the American College of Radiology (ACR) for best-quality imaging practices and diagnostic care.
  • CHOC uses only board-certified pediatric radiologists and specially trained pediatric radiology technologists, nurses and child life specialists.
  • All radiology staff undergo age-specific training annually to learn how to work and communicate with children of varying ages.
  • We are only one of a few medical centers in the country to have child life specialists working in a dedicated pediatric radiology and imaging department.