The Ultrasound Examination
Ultrasound is a very safe and well tolerated examination very good at looking at certain organs and diseases/problems associated with those organs. It is a painless examination using soundwaves, not x-ray, with no known harmful effects to humans. You will probably be asked to prepare for your scan by either fasting or attending with a full bladder (depending on the examination) and to wear loose fitting clothing. In most cases you will lie on a medical couch and the sonographer will apply a water based gel to the area to be scanned and then pass a probe over the skin. In some pelvic examinations an internal scan (vaginal scan) may be required.
All appointments can be arranged without a referral. However, a referral or letter from your Doctor or Consultant is advisable and, in the event that we find a problem, we can send them a copy of your report to ensure you receive the appropriate after care.
What will I experience during and after the procedure?
Ultrasound examinations are usually painless and easily tolerated by most patients.
Most types of Ultrasound examinations are completed within 20 minutes.
If a Doppler Ultrasound study is performed, you may actually hear pulse-like sounds that change in pitch as the blood flow is monitored and measured.
When the examination is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.
After an ultrasound examination, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
A sonographer will perform the scan and write a report based on what they have seen. In some cases the report and images will be sent to a consultant radiologist for a second opinion if the sonographer feels that this is necessary.
Follow-up examinations may be necessary, and recommendations may be included in your report. Sometimes a follow-up exam is done because a suspicious or questionable finding needs clarification with additional views or a special imaging technique. A follow-up examination may also be necessary so that any change in a known abnormality can be monitored over time. Follow-up examinations are sometimes the best way to see if treatment is working or if an abnormality is stable over time.
The sonographer will frequently be able to discuss the results with you on the day however we will quite often ask for the opinion of a Consultant Radiologist before issuing the final report within 48 hours which will include recommendations for follow up tests if required. The report will be sent to your GP or Consultant and a copy can also be sent to you.
Images can be made requested via IEP (Image Exchange Portal) if you are referred to a Hospital Consultant.
What are the limitations of Ultrasound Imaging?
Ultrasound waves are disrupted by air or gas; therefore Ultrasound is not an ideal imaging technique for air-filled bowel or organs obscured by the bowel. In most cases, Barium exams, CT scanning, and MRI are the methods of choice in these circumstances.
Large patients are more difficult to image by Ultrasound because greater amounts of tissue attenuates (weakens) the sound waves as they pass deeper into the body.