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Published: 16/02/2023

What to Expect During an Ultrasound: A Guide for Patients

As a sonographer, I understand that getting an ultrasound can be a nerve-wracking experience for many patients. However, I assure you that there is nothing to worry about, and the procedure is entirely safe and non-invasive.

Lets discuss what to expect during an ultrasound scan and answer some common questions you may have.

What is an Ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging, also known as sonography, is a medical technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time images of the inside of the body. Unlike X-rays, which use ionizing radiation to produce images, ultrasounds are safer as they use high frequency sound waves..

During an ultrasound, a handheld device called a transducer is placed on the skin over the area of the body being imaged. The transducer emits high-frequency sound waves that penetrate through the skin and into the body. As the sound waves bounce off internal organs and tissues, they are reflected back to the transducer, which converts them into an image that can be viewed on a monitor.

Ultrasounds are commonly used during pregnancy to monitor foetal development and check for any potential problems. They can also be used to image other parts of the body, such as the abdomen, pelvis, thyroid, and even the heart.

Abdominal ultrasounds can be used to check for conditions such as gallstones, liver disease, and kidney problems. Pelvic ultrasounds can help diagnose conditions such as ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, and ectopic pregnancies. Thyroid ultrasounds are used to evaluate the structure and function of the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck and plays an important role in regulating metabolism.

Ultrasound imaging is a safe and painless procedure that does not involve any radiation exposure, making it an ideal diagnostic tool for pregnant women and other patients who may be sensitive to radiation. It is also a relatively inexpensive imaging technique compared to other medical imaging methods.

Preparing for an Ultrasound

While there is usually no special preparation required for an ultrasound, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the procedure goes as smoothly as possible.

Before the procedure, it is a good idea to check with your healthcare provider or the imaging center to see if there are any specific instructions you need to follow. Depending on the area of the body being imaged, you may be asked to fast for a few hours before the procedure. For example, if you are having an abdominal ultrasound, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours before the procedure. This is because food and liquids in the stomach and intestines can interfere with the images.

If you are having a pelvic ultrasound, you may be asked to come with a full bladder. A full bladder can help provide a better image of the uterus and ovaries. In this case, you may be asked to drink several glasses of water before the procedure and not to empty your bladder until after the ultrasound is complete.

It is always a good idea to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your appointment. Depending on the area of the body being imaged, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown for the procedure. In some cases, you may also be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that could interfere with the ultrasound images.

If you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications, be sure to inform your healthcare provider or the imaging center before the procedure. Some medications may need to be temporarily stopped before the ultrasound, while others may not have any effect on the procedure.

It is also important to let the sonographer know if you have any allergies, as the ultrasound gel used during the procedure may contain ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction.

During the Ultrasound

When you arrive for your appointment in our private ultrasound clinic in Harley street you will be ask to complete a consent form.

During an ultrasound, you will typically be asked to lie down on an examination table. Depending on the area of the body being imaged, you may need to remove certain items of clothing, such as a shirt or pants, to allow the sonographer access to the skin.

A clear gel will then be applied to the skin over the area being imaged. The gel helps the sound waves from the transducer to travel through the skin and into the body, improving the quality of the images. The sonographer will then place the transducer on the skin and move it around to capture images of the area being examined.

During the procedure, the sonographer may ask you to change positions to get different angles of the area being imaged. For example, if you are having an abdominal ultrasound, you may be asked to lie on your back, and then turn onto your side or stomach to get a better view of the internal organs.

In some cases, you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to help get a clear image. This is especially true if you are having an ultrasound of the heart or other organs that move with breathing.

The sonographer will be able to see the images in real-time on a monitor and may take several images from different angles to ensure that all the necessary areas have been examined.

The duration of the ultrasound procedure can vary depending on the area of the body being imaged. For example, a simple abdominal ultrasound may only take 30 minutes, while a more complex exam, such as an ultrasound of the heart, may take up to an hour or more.

During the procedure, it is important to stay as still as possible to ensure clear and accurate images. The sonographer may give you instructions to help you remain still, such as asking you to relax your muscles or not to move your head.

After the Ultrasound

Once the private ultrasound procedure is complete, the sonographer will wipe off the gel, and dress.

You can resume normal activities immediately after the procedure, and there are usually no restrictions or limitations on your activities.

The images captured during the ultrasound will be reviewed by a radiologist or your healthcare provider, who will then share the results with you. Depending on the reason for the ultrasound, your healthcare provider may discuss the results with you immediately after the procedure, or you may need to wait for the results to be analyzed and interpreted.

It is important to note that while the sonographer may be able to provide you with some general information about what they see during the procedure, they are not qualified to provide a diagnosis or interpretation of the images. The sonographer is responsible for capturing high-quality images and ensuring that all necessary areas have been imaged, but the interpretation and diagnosis of the images are typically done by a radiologist or your healthcare provider.

It is always best to wait for the results from your healthcare provider, who can provide you with a more detailed interpretation of the images and discuss any necessary follow-up or treatment options. Your healthcare provider may also order additional imaging tests or procedures based on the results of the ultrasound, depending on the reason for the exam and the findings.

If you have any questions or concerns about the results of your ultrasound, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider for further information or clarification. They can help you understand the results and what they mean for your health and well-being.


Ultrasounds are a safe and non-invasive way to help diagnose and monitor medical conditions.

There is no special preparation required for most ultrasounds, and the procedure is painless and typically takes around 10mins

. If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming private ultrasound scan, don't hesitate to reach out.

Ultrasound clinic london registered and regulated by CQC
Ultrasound London Clinic Address:
29 Weymouth Street, Marylebone, London, W1G 7DB
Phone: 020 3633 4902 Email: info@sonoworld.co.uk or sonoworlduk@gmail.com
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