About Your Ultrasound Exam
What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound exam (also known as a sonogram) is a diagnostic imaging study that uses high-frequency sound waves to provide images of internal areas of your body. It is particularly useful in producing images of soft-tissue areas (like your abdominal organs) because it can differentiate between different forms of tissue. Ultrasound can show real-time internal motion, like the beating of your baby’s heart. Sonograms are used to assess where the baby is located, gestational age of the baby (how far a long you are in the pregnancy), the baby’s heart rate, and expected date of delivery.
How does it work?
An ultrasound /sonogram is painless, and there are no after-effects. No radiation is used, so this procedure is very safe for you and your baby.
In an ultrasound exam, sound waves far above the range of human hearing penetrate your body. When your internal organs reflect back the sound waves, a computer records and interprets the resulting echoes and generates an image of the area of your body and baby.
How do I prepare for my ultrasound/sonogram?
It is very helpful if you have a full bladder when you are having your sonogram of the baby. Please drink at least 32 ounces of water 1 hour prior to appointment and hold. Do not void (do not use the bathroom). Sound waves use the full bladder as a window to give a better view of the pelvic organs and baby.
What will the procedure be like?
Prior to the exam you will meet with the sonographer to discuss your medical history and she will answer any questions you may have about the exam. The exam itself typically takes about 30 minutes. You will be asked to lie on a comfortable, padded table and your sonographer will spread a warm transmitting gel over the lower part of your abdomen. She will then run a wand-like instrument (called a transducer) lightly through the gel a number of times. A video screen will immediately display moving images of the area being examined, and the images will be recorded for analysis. If the sonographer believes a better image can be obtained by inserting a narrow transducer into the vaginal canal, she will discuss this option with you at the time of your exam. Total time you will be in the exam room is approximately one hour.
When will I know the results?
The images are reviewed by the sonographer and radiologist after your exam is completed. Providing the sonographer was able to obtain measurements of the baby during the exam and record the baby’s heartbeat, she will be able to give you immediate results. The results will include your baby’s age, expected due date, heart rate, and you will be able to take a few pictures home with you to share with family and friends.
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