A Guide for Patients
You are scheduled for an ultrasound at UW
Health. Allow time to park and find the
reception area. Sometimes emergency
exams have to be worked into our schedule.
We are sorry for any delays this may cause.
What Is Ultrasound?
Ultrasound uses sound waves to create
pictures of many areas inside of the body.
No x-rays or special dyes are used and it
should not hurt.
Wear comfortable, washable clothing.
Depending on the type of ultrasound you
have, you may be given a hospital gown and
asked to partly undress. For some exams
you are told not to eat or drink for six hours
before your exam. If you are having an
ultrasound-guided procedure, you will be
called by a nurse who will give you more
information and instructions.
It is very important to follow the directions
you are given. Your exam may be cancelled
if you do not follow the directions.
During the Ultrasound
1. The sonographer (person who does the
exam) asks you a few questions about
2. You are asked to lie on a table in a
room with dim lighting.
3. A warm gel is put on your skin near
the area of the exam.
4. A small, hand-held device (probe) is
slid over your skin.
5. You can see the pictures on a computer
6. You may be asked to change positions
or hold your breath to help us get the
7. You may feel some mild pressure from
the probe. Tell the sonographer if you
feel any pain or discomfort during the
After the exam, the sonographer and doctor
review the images and determine the results.
The doctor may come into the scan room to
ask you more questions or do a brief scan.
Most exams take 30-60 minutes.
Special Types of Ultrasound
Female patients having their uterus or
ovaries looked at may have a special probe
placed into the vagina. This provides better
pictures. Please tell the sonographer if you
have any latex allergies.
Ultrasound that shows blood flow in the
veins and arteries is called a Doppler.
During a Doppler you may see colors on the
screen and hear swishing sounds.
Ultrasound can also be used to help with
procedures done in the room. The doctor
explains the procedure and asks you to sign
a consent form. Other healthcare
professionals may also help in some special
procedures. This is explained by the
sonographer. You are closely watched by
the radiology staff before and after your
After the Ultrasound
If you do not have more tests, you can go
back to your normal routine. You may eat
or drink right afterward. The results are sent
to your doctor, who then calls you to explain
the results and choices of treatment.
If you have questions about the exam, please
call your local doctor or clinic.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 11/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#4334.