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The Patient's Guide to Ultrasounds

Last updated 3 years ago

Ultrasounds are extremely common, safe medical procedures, but if you’re scheduled for one, you probably have some questions about what to expect. Like MRIs and CT scans, ultrasounds are used to give doctors a look inside your body. Although many people associate ultrasounds specifically with pregnancy, they can be used to provide an image of many organs and to judge blood flow. If you’re scheduled for an ultrasound, here is what you need to know:

  • What Are Ultrasounds?

Ultrasounds rely on sound waves to develop a picture of a particular structure in the body. An instrument called a transducer produces these waves, which are directed at the area of the body your doctor wants to see. These waves then bounce back to the transducer at various rates depending on the materials they pass through, which feeds the information to a machine that uses the waves to create a picture of the scanned area.

  • Why Are Ultrasounds Used?

Ultrasounds are used as a diagnostic tool, much like MRIs. A radiologist will examine the ultrasound images to look for abnormalities on your organ structure or with your blood flow. The information in the images will help your doctor determine what sort of treatment plan, if any, is required for your condition.

  • Are Ultrasounds Painful?

Ultrasounds do not hurt. Sometimes, it is necessary to apply slight pressure with the transducer, but most patients do not report this as being painful. There is no painful preparation for ultrasounds, either. In the case of abdominal and renal ultrasounds, you must fast before the procedure. For pelvic ultrasounds, you must drink 40 ounces of water before the ultrasound, as your bladder needs to be full for the best results. Other ultrasounds do not require any prep.

Ultrasounds are just one of the diagnostic procedures we perform at Denver’s Advanced Medical Imaging. We also offer MRIs, intravenous pyelograms, CT scans, and more. For information about MRIs, ultrasounds, and all of our imaging procedures, call one of our Denver metro clinics including Louisville, Golden, and Thornton at (303) 433-9729.  


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