An Ultrasound scan is a harmless procedure which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of the body. Ultrasound scans are generally used to monitor an unborn baby, guide surgeons during procedures, or diagnose a condition.
Ultrasound scans work by giving off high-frequency sound waves. These waves can’t be heard, but bounce off parts of the body, create echoes and then show a moving image.
Before an Ultrasound scan, you may be asked to drink water and not go to the toilet until after the scan. This is often asked of people getting a scan around the pelvic area, as it can help to get a clearer image. Or, if you’re getting a scan of the liver, gallbladder, or digestive system, you may be asked to avoid eating or drinking a few hours before the scan.
There are three types of Ultrasound scan. There are external scans, which take place outside the body and are most commonly used to examine an unborn baby or your organs. Internal scans are used to look closely inside organs such as the womb or prostate gland. These small ultrasound probes will be inserted either through the vagina or rectum, depending on what is being examined. While this can be uncomfortable, it’s relatively quick and painless. Finally, there are endoscopic ultrasounds, which are inserted into your body through your mouth to examine areas such as the stomach or oesophagus. You’ll usually be given an anaesthetic spray for your throat and a sedative to keep you calm, as it can be uncomfortable.