Visit Our Coronavirus (COVID-19)  Resource Section ⇒ X
Way to Grow Header


(757) 668-7000

What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is an exam that uses sound waves to see into the body. It is called an ultrasound because you cannot hear the sound waves. The ultrasound pictures show soft-tissue organs such as the liver, kidneys, gallbladder and others. (Many mothers have an ultrasound during their pregnancy.)

What do we do to prepare for an Ultrasound?

Most ultrasounds do not need special preparation. It is always a good idea not to give your child foods that cause gas 2 hours before the ultrasound. Some ultrasounds do need special instructions. Ask your child's doctor or nurse about it when the appointment is made. It is very important to follow any special instructions for the ultrasound. If they are not followed, the appointment may have to be rescheduled.

Who does the test?

A trained, registered sonographer will perform the test. Sometimes the radiologist will come into the room to watch or to take pictures.

How is the test done?

The ultrasound machine is made up of computers with hand held instruments called transducers. A transducer looks like a wand or microphone. This wand makes the picture on the computer screen. Your child will lie down on a bed in a dim room. Gel (goo, lotion, or slime), which is usually warm, is placed on the area to be scanned. Your child is asked to be very still and push out their belly (make a fat tummy) or take in a deep breath (like swimming under water). The pictures are taken using the wand. After it is done the gel is cleaned off.

Who looks at the pictures?

The radiologist will view all of the pictures and then talk to you child's doctor.

Are there any risks?

Experts have studied ultrasound for many years and report that it is a safe procedure. Ultrasound does not involve the use of X-ray, so there is no radiation.

What happens after the test?

The technologist will give you the instructions you need and tell you when you may leave.

Who will give me the results?

The doctor who asked for the test will call you with the results within a few days. Please call your doctor's office if you have not heard anything after a few days.

How should I prepare my child?

Infants: You cannot explain the exam to your baby. You can help your baby feel more secure during the test by bringing a special blanket, toy or pacifier. Please bring along a bottle of juice or formula to feed your baby when the test is done.

Toddlers and preschool-age children: Young children remember things for only a short time, so the best time to talk about the test is right before you are ready to come to the hospital. Tell your child that you are going to the hospital to have some "pictures" taken that the doctor needs to help him/her get better. Try to use simple words. It is important to be honest with your child. Tell him/her nothing will hurt. Because children at this age are afraid of being separated from their parent, let him/her know that mom or dad will stay with him/her as much as possible. When you come to the hospital, bring a favorite book, toy or blanket. You may also bring along a snack for after the test.

School-age children: School-age children have good imaginations. If you don't tell them the truth, they may imagine something much worse than the actual test. The day of the test, tell your child that he/she will be going to the hospital to have some pictures taken of the inside of his/her body. Tell him/her the pictures will help the doctor decide how to make him/her better. Use simple words. Be honest. Try to tell your child exactly what will happen. Tell him/her it is a painless test. Nothing will hurt. When you come to the hospital, bring along a favorite book, toy or game. If you wish, you may also bring along a snack for after the test.

Please call your child's doctor or the Radiology Department (668-7250) if you have any questions or concerns.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 05/2018

(757) 668-7000