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.
During the scan
A gel will be spread over your skin, over the area the doctors are checking. 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, but it may take longer depending on what is being scanned.
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