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Ultrasound Scan

Ultrasound Scan: Overview, Procedure, Risks, Limitations and More | Singapore General Hospital

Ultrasound Scan - What it is

This is a specialised procedure that uses sound waves to obtain information about the structure and functions of the different organs within the body. X-rays are not used in this examination.

Preparation

Preparation before the scan is very important to ensure that a complete and accurate examination can be carried out. Plain water can be consumed at any time before the examination. If you are on any prescribed medications, please continue your medications as directed by your physician. If you are a diabetic and you are on food restriction, please omit your anti-diabetic drugs. Please refrain from smoking on the day of appointment.

Abdominal ultrasound scans

Food restriction is necessary for at least 7 hours before the appointment, i.e.:

  • No breakfast before your morning appointment or
  • No lunch before your afternoon appointment but a light breakfast before 7.00a.m. is allowed

Pelvis/bladder/prostate ultrasound scans

  • No restriction on food or drinks is necessary;
  • Preferably drink 2 large glasses of water 1 hour before your appointment. After which please do not empty your bladder till the examination is over.

Neck/chest/kidneys/others ultrasound scan

No preparation is required.

On Arrival

You will be required to change into a hospital gown. A locker will be provided for your belongings, but please keep your valuables at home.

The Ultrasound Examination

In the examination room, you will be asked to lie on the examination couch. A thick gel will be applied on your body over the region to be examined. This gel facilitates the transmission of sound waves through your body and will not stain your clothes. The radiologist/radiographer will then scan the region using a transducer, which produces the sound waves, by moving it over your body.

The whole examination will last about half an hour to one hour, depending on the part of the body being examined. There should be no pain or discomfort during the whole examination.

Due to the nature of our work, some examinations may take longer than anticipated and we may not be able to keep strictly to schedule.

If you have any questions about the examination, do not hesitate to ask the radiologist/radiographer attending to you.

After the scan, you may resume normal activities.

Results of the Examination

The radiologist will review the images and report the findings to your physician, who will then discuss the results with you on your next appointment.

Possible Risks

For standard diagnostic ultrasound there are no known harmful effects on humans.

Limitations

Ultrasound has difficulty penetrating bone and therefore can only see the outer surface of bony structures and not what lies within. Ultrasound waves do not pass through air; therefore an evaluation of the stomach, small intestine and large intestine may be limited. Intestinal gas may also prevent visualization of deeper structures such as the pancreas and aorta.

Patients suffering from obesity are more difficult to image - this is because tissue attenuates (weakens) the sound waves as they pass deeper into the body.


Ultrasound Scan - Symptoms

Ultrasound Scan - How to prevent?

Ultrasound Scan - Causes and Risk Factors

Ultrasound Scan - Diagnosis

Ultrasound Scan - Treatments

Ultrasound Scan - Preparing for surgery

Ultrasound Scan - Post-surgery care

Ultrasound Scan - Other Information

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The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.

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