Ultrasound Scan

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Ultrasound Scans are a diagnostic technique used by radiologists to view internal orans in the body. It is a non-invasive technique that is commonly used during pregnancy to check on the development of the baby in the womb.

Ultrasounds can pick up cysts, as on a kidney, however unless it is a Simple Cyst as defined by the Bosniak rating it is likely that you will be sent for a CT Scan for further investigation. The clarity of the image on an ultrasound is limited, but is a rapid usage piece of equipment for measuring fluids within the body as with Pleural Effusion or Bladder content. Ultrasound can pick up solid Tumours but is less efffective on other aspects internally.

How an ultrasound works

Ultrasound scans use sound waves to build up a picture of the inside of the body. They are completely painless. These scans are usually done in the hospital X-ray department. Ultrasound works in a similar way to a depth sounder on a ship. A transponder is moved over the part of the body to be scanned. A sound signal is transmitted from the transponder and echoes returned from the organs in the body. The Ultrasound scanner computer analyses the echoes received and uses the information to build a picture on a screen.

What will happen

Once you have checked in with the receptionist, you will be asked to take a seat in the waiting room until a radiographer calls you.

When you are called, you may be shown to a cubicle and asked to take off your outer clothing down to your underwear and put on a hospital gown. Whether you have to undress or not will depend on the part of your body to be scanned.

You will be taken into the scanning room and asked to lie on the couch next to the ultrasound machine. You may be able to sit up depending on which part of your body is being scanned. A clear gel will be spread onto your skin over the scanning site. This helps to transmit the sound waves from and to the transponder.

The doctor or radiographer will move the transponder back and forth over the part of your body that is being scanned. The scan will appear on the machine screen, which will be next to you. If you would like to see it, just ask. Ultrasound scans are quite difficult to read. Most people think they look like a bad snow storm!

Ultrasound scans may take from 5 minutes to about half an hour, depending on the scan. At the end of the scan, the doctor or radiographer will wipe the gel from your skin and help you down from the couch. You will be able to go home once the scan is over. Preparation for the scan Generally there is no preparation for ultrasound scans. But for particular scans, you may be asked not to eat or drink for about 6 hours before the scan. If you are having your womb scanned, you will probably be asked to come to the appointment with a full bladder. This is because the full bladder pushes the womb up so it is in a position that is easier to scan. You may need a full bladder for a bladder scan too. There will be a toilet close by, so you will be able to go as soon as the scan is over. Different types of ultrasound scan Sometimes, doctors need to put the ultrasound microphone inside the body to get a clearer picture. Most often this is done for a scan of your prostate.

Rectal ultrasound

If you are having your prostate gland examined, you have a rectal ultrasound. You will need to make sure you have had a bowel movement beforehand so your rectum is empty when you come for your appointment. A small ultrasound microphone is put into your back passage to get a clearer picture of the prostate. This is obviously uncomfortable, but shouldn't hurt. This type of scan does not take long.


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