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Ultrasound | St. Paul Radiology
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General Information About Ultrasound

Ultrasound examinations are non-invasive and painless, and are performed with the use of a probe that emits sound waves, making an image from the reflection of the sound waves. Diagnostic ultrasound is performed for a wide variety of indications, including obstetrical evaluation, identifying gallstones, and evaluating aneurysms.

The physicians and staff of St. Paul Radiology are pleased to provide you with answers to questions you may have about your upcoming exam. This information will help ensure a positive experience when you are a patient for ultrasound.

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Select Imaging Procedures

Ultrasound Duplex Scan Extremities

Ultrasound imaging involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. The most common reason for a venous ultrasound exam is to search for blood clots, especially in the veins of the leg.

Ultrasound Abdomen Complete

This ultrasound exam is used to help diagnose abdominal pain or distention, abnormal liver function, enlarged abdominal organs, stones in the gallbladder or kidney, an aneurysm in the aorta, and may also be used to provide guidance for biopsies.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

A transvaginal ultrasound is usually performed to view the endometrium or the lining of the uterus, including its thickness, and ovaries. Transvaginal ultrasound also affords a good way to evaluate the muscular walls of the uterus.

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Download Procedure Preparation Information

Questions About Ultrasound

Question: What is an ultrasound?

Answer: An ultrasound is an examination using high-frequency sound waves to create images. Ultrasound does not involve radiation. A licensed sonographer (a technologist specially trained in the field of ultrasound) will perform your exam. Your exam and films will be monitored and interpreted by a radiologist.

Question: Is there any preparation on my part prior to my appointment?

Answer: The following is a list of ultrasound exams and the preparation required before your exam:

  • Abdomen: This exam studies the organs in your abdomen (liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, spleen and aorta). Please do not eat or drink anything after midnight prior to your exam. If you have an afternoon appointment, do not eat or drink for eight hours prior to the exam.
  • Pelvic or Obstetrical: Whether you are pregnant or not, you will be required to drink four 8 ounce glasses of water one hour before your appointment time. Please do not use the restroom until after your exam. Your bladder must be full in order to study the pelvic organs, and if you are pregnant, the anatomy of your baby. Your bowel lies in front of these structures/organs, and a full bladder will push the bowel away to allow a better view.
  • Vascular: Vascular exams are used to evaluate your arteries and veins. With Doppler ultrasound we can examine the anatomy and blood flow patterns in your vessels. No preparation is required.

Question: What should I bring to my appointment?

Answer: Please bring your insurance card. Your insurance company will be billed for the procedure. You will receive a bill for any co-pay or non-covered expenses from St. Paul Radiology Outpatient Imaging.

Question: What should I expect during my examination?

Answer: After you enter the examination room, the sonographer will ask you some brief questions concerning your medical history and current symptoms. This information is important to your exam.

For an abdominal exam, you will not be asked to undress, but will need to uncover your abdomen. You will be asked to lie on your back on the examination table.

Pelvic and Obstetrical exams may be performed in two different ways. The first method involves moving a small probe called a transducer across your abdomen. A gel will be applied to your skin and the sonographer will apply mild to moderate pressure allowing the transducer to emit and receive sound waves to form images.

The second method uses a transducer specially designed to be placed in the vagina. You will be asked to empty your bladder and remove your underwear before this exam. The transducer will be placed into your vagina with lubricating gel and the necessary images recorded. This technique allows a more detailed exam of the adjacent structures/organs. The method to be used will be decided at the time of the exam and is based on your medical history.

Vascular exams may require you to change into a gown for easy access to the vessels being imaged. A Doppler probe will be used to evaluate the blood flow through your arteries and veins. You will hear noises similar to a heartbeat as the sonographer evaluates the blood flow through your vessels.

Question: How long will my examination last?

Answer: Ultrasound examinations last 30-45 minutes. This may vary depending on the type of exam.

Question: How will I receive my ultrasound results?

Answer: A Board Certified Radiologist (a physician who specializes in interpreting diagnostic images) will study the images from your examination and send a report to your physician.