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Understanding Ultrasound

What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound uses high frequency soundwaves that you can't hear to "see" the internal organs in your body.

An ultrasound examination uses no X-rays. It is generally painless and non-invasive (nothing is injected into your body). No known dangers or side effects are associated with the use of ultrasonography. It images soft tissue densities and discriminates them well; detects tumors (cystic vs. solid) and lesions, gallstones, and kidney stones; and images the flow of blood in the major arteries.

The individual who will perform the ultrasound study is known as a sonographer. The sonographer will assist you onto the examination table. At this time, transmission gel will be applied to the area of your body being imaged. The only sensation you will have is a slight pressure and movement of the transducer, a hand-held, rod-like microphone device, over the part of the body being imaged. The transducer sends a signal to a computer that processes the data and produces the ultrasound image.

You may be asked to hold your breath or change positions at times. The length of time for the exam varies from 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the study. The images are stored on a radiology computer system. A radiologist (a physician who specializes in ultrasound and X-ray) will interpret your exam, and a written report will be sent to your personal physician who ordered the exam.

Sonographers do not interpret exams. We ask that you not question the sonographer for an opinion of your study.

Preparing for Your Ultrasound Exam

Each ultrasound exam has required preparations. The most frequently performed exams are listed, along with their preps. If instructions are not listed, your physician will inform you about your exam.

Clear liquids for dinner the night before. No carbonated beverages. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before. The exam takes 30 to 45 minutes.

Same prep as abdomen. The exam takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Same prep as abdomen. The exam takes 20 to 40 minutes.

Transvaginal Ultrasound of Pelvis
Routine pelvis ultrasound exams are performed transvaginally with the use of a vaginal probe. The probe is slightly larger than a tampon and is inserted into the vagina with very little, if any, discomfort. Exams take 15-30 minutes to perform.

Transabdominal Ultrasound of Pelvis
If the physician specifies a transabdominal pelvis exam, or if adequate images cannot be obtained vaginally, a transabdominal pelvis exam is performed. With this exam, an external ultrasound probe is used, and a full bladder is necessary. If this exam is ordered, drink 32 ounces of liquid one hour before your scheduled exam time, and do not empty your bladder. The exam takes 15 to 30 minutes to perform.

Important Information

Your ultrasound exam must be ordered by a physician. The physician's office will make the appointment for you with our department. If you need to cancel your appointment, please call so that time can be used for another patient.

If you have questions about your bill, the business office phone number is (859) 260-6644. The radiologist's bill is separate from the hospital's. If you have questions regarding the radiologist's bill, please call 1-877-459-2290.

You must be registered in the hospital's computer system before the exam can be performed. Our registration staff may call you in advance to preregister you or you may register online. If not, you should first report to registration 30 minutes before your scheduled exam. If you are preregistered by the hospital, you may go directly to the radiology department waiting room on the first floor of Building D (1740) or the outpatient center where you are scheduled.

For More Information

For more information about ultrasound exams at Baptist Health Lexington, please call (859) 260-6157. For information about ultrasound exams at the following Baptist Health Lexington outpatient diagnostic centers, please call (859) 260-6547 or 1-800-280-5090.

  • Baptist Health Lexington Medical Plaza at Brannon Crossing, 100 Providence Way in Nicholasville
  • Baptist Health Lexington Outpatient Center at Hamburg, 1775 Alysheba Way
  • Baptist Health Lexington Medical Plaza Richmond, 107 Meridian Way off Barnes Mill Road in Richmond
  • Baptist Health Lexington Diagnostic Center at Southland, 100 Southland Drive at the corner of Nicholasville Road and Southland Drive