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This scan uses sound waves to build up a picture of the part of the body being scanned.
Ultrasound scans are often used to look for changes in organs such as the liver. The sounds are transmitted and bounce back from the organs in the body, but we can’t hear these sounds.
It can be done as an outpatient.
What you need to do before the scan will depend on which part of the body is being looked at.
You will put on a gown and lie on a couch. The radiographer will put some gel on your skin where you are having the scan. This feels cold, but is needed to make it easier for the microphone to pick up the sound waves from your body to build the pictures. They will then put a microphone on to the area of your body that they want to look at. The microphone is attached to a machine which converts these sound waves into a picture of the inside of your body. It is not painful, but you will feel some gentle pushing of the microphone. You may be able to see the pictures as they do the scan. It is difficult to work out what is on the screen and can look a bit like lots of white speckles.
In total, it takes 10 to 30 minutes.
Once the radiographer has finished, they will wipe the gel off your skin and you can go home if you have had it done as an outpatient.
A specialist doctor will look at the scan and write a report for your doctor. It can take from a few days to a couple of weeks for results to be ready.
Content last reviewed: 1 November 2011
Next planned review: 2012
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