Frequently Asked Questions about Ultrasound

General Ultrasound Procedures

Why do I have to fast for an abdominal ultrasound?

Fasting reduces the amount of air in the stomach and intestines, which can interfere with visualization of the abdominal organs. It also ensures that the gallbladder will be distended so it can be thoroughly evaluated.

Why do I have to have a full bladder for a pelvic ultrasound?

A distended bladder acts as a "window" through which the sound waves travel and allows the sonographer to visualize the pelvic organs. A distended bladder also displaces the bowel, which can prevent visualization of the pelvic organs.

Does a breast ultrasound show more than a mammogram?

Mammography is still the best way to image the entire breast. Ultrasound is used to target certain areas in question on the mammogram, as well as lumps and painful areas that the patient or physician is concerned about.  Ultrasound is also used as a screening tool for people with dense breasts who have already had a mammogram.

How and when will I get the results of the exam?

After the scan is finished, one of our board-certified radiologists will interpret the study and send a report to your doctor within 24 hours.

Ultrasound Guided Procedures

Ultrasound is also used as an aid in other procedures, such as biopsy and radiofrequency ablation.

What is an ultrasound guided procedure?

An ultrasound guided procedure may consist of a biopsy, in which a small sample of tissue from inside your body is obtained using the ultrasound machine for guidance. This technique often eliminates the need for an operation to get the same piece of tissue. A radiofrequency ablation is a separate procedure, which is performed to treat a tumor.

Why is this being done?

A biopsy is performed because a previous radiology test showed an abnormality. It is not clear what the abnormal tissue is, and a small sample of tissue is required to find out.

Does it hurt?

We use local anesthesia for all biopsies. In certain situations we will administer sedation during the test. You will not be completely asleep for this test.

How long does a procedure take?

The actual procedure is approximately one hour. You will be observed in our recovery area by qualified nurses for approximately three hours after the procedure.

Do I have to do anything special before having a procedure?

Special preparations are required of patients up to one week before the procedure.

How will I get the results of the ultrasound procedure?

The specimen obtained from the procedure will be delivered to pathology where specialized doctors will look at the tissue under a microscope. They will send the results to your doctor in approximately three to five days.