Ultrasound scans

Diagram of ultrasound and biopsy

An ultrasound uses sound waves to build up a picture of your internal tissues.

Before the test

Usually no special preparations are needed. You may be asked to fast (not eat) for a few hours before the test.

  • Scan of tummy / pelvic area: You may have to drink a lot of water, as a full bladder can help the doctor to get a clearer picture.
  • For a rectal ultrasound to examine your prostate or anus: You may be given some medicine to make sure your bowels are clear before the scan or you may need an enema.

A gel will be spread over your skin in the area. A small device like a microphone is moved back and forth over your skin to take the scan.

For a rectal or vaginal ultrasound the technician will use a different type of probe that can be inserted.
 The scanning device makes sound waves that are changed into a picture on a computer.

Does it hurt?

It might be a little bit uncomfortable if the sonographer (person doing the test) presses the probe against a particular part of your body. Let them know if you’re feeling any discomfort.  

How long does it take?

About 10 minutes

For more information

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