Health Library

Ultrasound

Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses sound waves to take pictures of structures inside your body. These sound waves echo from the body to create a picture onto the computer screen. This computer screen is a large ultrasound machine on wheels.

The human ear cannot hear these sound wave echoes, so a special wand called a transducer (like a camera) is used to take pictures.

Ultrasound Procedure

One of our sonographers will escort you into one of our scan rooms. The rooms are kept fairly dark so that we can see the screen (just like a movie theater).

Your child will be placed on a soft table for at least 30 minutes or longer. The sonographer will then place warm lotion onto your child’s body and take pictures for the doctor. The lotion is clear and easily removable. The sonographer will slide the transducer that acts like a camera across the part of the body being examined.

Sometimes during ultrasound, the doctor even comes in and scans too. The ultrasound test does not hurt, and ultrasound waves will not harm your child. Parents are encouraged to stay with your child during the test.

Have your child wear loose clothing. During the ultrasound test, your child will need to lie fairly still on the table, so it is a good idea to bring a favorite movie to watch. If you forget, we have a selection of movies.

Before the Test

Before coming to the hospital read the explanation and explain to your child what will happen during the ultrasound test.

If you child is an infant and drinks from a bottle, it is a good idea to bring along a bottle for a baby to drink during the test. Also bring a pacifier or special toy to help calm your child.

For older children, bring books or electronic games to occupy them while waiting.

Before the Exam

There are different preparations to follow, according to your child’s age and the part of the body being examined. Please pay close attention to the following instructions for your child’s scheduled test.

Abdomen Ultrasounds

Your child cannot have anything to eat or drink before the study. The number of hours that your child cannot eat depends on age. The times are as follows:

  • Newborn to 2 years: Nothing to eat or drink for four hours prior to test
  • 3 to 8 years of age: Nothing to eat or drink for six hours prior to test
  • 9 years and older: Nothing to eat or drink for eight hours prior to test

Doppler only: Nothing to eat or drink for four hours

Elastography or ARFI:

  • under 2 years of age: Nothing to eat or drink for two hours
  • 2 year and older: Nothing to eat or drink for four hours

Liver Transplant Ultrasounds

  • All ages: Nothing to eat or drink for four hours

Renal, Kidney or Pelvic Ultrasounds

Up to 1 year: Nothing to eat or drink for three hours prior to test and bring a bottle to feed the baby during the test

There are no food restrictions prior to the exam for children 1 year and older, but we do need your child to have a full bladder if possible.

Drink:

  • 1-3 years: finish drinking 4-6 ounces of fluids 30 minutes before the test.
  • 4-6 years: finish drinking 8-12 ounces of fluids one hour before exam. Do not empty bladder before the exam.
  • 7-12 years: finish drinking 12-16 ounces of fluids one hour before exam. Do not empty bladder before the exam.
  • 13-18 years: finish drinking 16-24 ounces of fluids one hour before exam. Do not empty bladder before the exam.

Pylorus, Hip, Spine and Head Ultrasounds

Nothing to eat or drink three hours prior to test (bring a bottle to feed baby during study).

There are no special preparations needed for the following exams:

  • Extremity ultrasounds
  • Doppler venous extremity (DVT) ultrasounds
  • Thyroid ultrasounds
  • Scrotum or testicular ultrasounds
  • Soft tissue mass ultrasounds

After the Test

When the test is over, your child may return to regular daily activities and meals. The report of the test results will be available to your doctor within a 24-hour period.

Last Updated 08/2020

Reviewed By Paula Bennett
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