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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Ultrasound

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An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to look inside your body. Ultrasound can be used to look at many different parts of your body, including your liver and kidney. Ultrasound is commonly used to look at how a baby is developing in its mother's womb.

Before your scan

For most scans, you will not have to do anything to prepare for the scan. But for some scans, you'll need to have a full bladder or not eat for several hours before your appointment.

You'll be given instructions on what you need to do when you receive your appointment letter.

During your scan

For an external scan, you'll usually be asked to lie down on an examination couch on your side or back. A warm gel will be used to help get a clearer picture. A hand-held device that emits the ultrasound waves (the transducer) will slowly be moved over your skin, recording images from different angles.

For certain scans, you'll be asked to have a probe placed internally (in your vagina or rectum) to get clearer pictures. The health professional who asked for the test will discuss this with you.

After your scan

A specialist doctor (radiologist) will view the images and write a report about what the scan shows. They will send their report to the health professional who asked for the test, who will then discuss the test results with you during a follow-up appointment, over the phone or by email or text message.

Risks of the scan

Ultrasound is very safe and uses no radiation.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2022.

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Review key: HISXN-86976