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What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound technology uses sound waves reflecting from the body’s tissues to create an image. The technologist directs sound waves from the transducer into the body, and in turn, the transducer detects any waves that were reflected back. The transducer sends that information to a computer which turns the data into an image. Because ultrasound imaging does not use radiation, it is often used for imaging of pregnancies and infants, but it is also used to image many other parts of the body.

Regional West Medical Center has two ultrasound machines with the capability of scanning nearly every part of the body. Outpatient ultrasounds are scheduled from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Your primary care physician must refer you for a scheduled ultrasound. Ultrasound exams are available at all times for inpatients and emergency patients.

What to expect if you are a patient

During the ultrasound exam, you will be asked to lie on a table. The sonographer will use some clear jelly on the skin as a lubricant and to improve the passing of the sound waves from the transducer to the skin. The sonographer will move the transducer over your skin, directing the sound waves into the area of interest. Images are taken from several different angles, so the sonographer will turn and move the transducer from one area of the body to the next until the area of interest is covered. Some organs are difficult to image with ultrasound because of their position within the body. In these cases, transvaginal ultrasound may be done with a special transducer designed to create better images for deep organs. In some cases, patients may be required to go without food for a certain time before the exam, or they may be asked to come to the exam with a full bladder.

Most ultrasound exams take 30 to 45 minutes. At Regional West, ultrasound patients are cared for by a registered radiologic technologist, who may also be known as a sonographer. This technologist is specially certified in ultrasound imaging a national organization, either American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). This technologist will take the patient’s history, assist him or her into the correct position on the table, and operate the ultrasound equipment. 

The completed images are examined by a board certified radiologist and the report is sent directly to your physician, who will then contact you with the results.