Ultrasound (Sonography) Scans: How Do They Work?

Ultrasound (also called sonography) is a type of imaging that uses sound waves to produce pictures of the body part being scanned.

A small instrument or “wand” called a transducer is placed directly on the skin along with clear ultrasound gel to create the images.


Why is my child having an ultrasound?

An ultrasound is used to diagnose and treat different medical conditions.

How long does an ultrasound take?

An ultrasound can last 15 to 30 minutes, but more complex scans can take longer. The time depends on the area and organs being scanned.

What preparation is needed for a pediatric ultrasound?

Preparation for the ultrasound is different depending on the part of the body being scanned. You will receive instructions before the test if there is preparation needed for your child's study.

What happens during a pediatric ultrasound?

  • Your child will sit or lay on a bed while the ultrasound is performed.
  • Shirts or clothing near the area that will be scanned will be lifted up. A wash cloth may be placed at the edge of the clothing to protect it from the gel.
  • The ultrasound technologist will place the gel and the transducer on the skin, moving the transducer gently to get the images.
  • When the ultrasound is complete, the gel can be wiped off with a washcloth.
  • A radiologist will check the images before you leave to make sure no other images are needed.

What can I do to help put my child more at ease during the pediatric ultrasound?

  • Your child may hold on to a favorite toy or blanket during the test for comfort.
  • He or she can also bring items to help distract them during the test (such as a tablet, handheld game, or other item).
  • You may stay close to your child throughout the entire test to provide comfort while offering praise and reassurance.

Remember, your presence is a comfort to your child. Please try to plan for alternate care for siblings on the day the test is scheduled.

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