Ultrasound scan

What happens?

Ultrasound scans use sound waves to show internal organs. You'll usually be asked not to eat or drink anything for a few hours before the test.

Once you are lying comfortably on your back, a gel is spread on the skin over the area to be scanned. A small device that produces sound waves is passed over the area. The sound waves are then converted into a picture by a computer. This test is painless and only takes a few minutes.

An ultrasound can also be used to guide a biopsy, in which tissue is taken to be examined under a microscope.

Common types of ultrasound

Ultrasounds have different names depending on the part of the body being looked at. Some common ultrasounds include:

  • Endobronchial ultrasound
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Trans-vaginal ultrasound

You can read more about different types of ultrasound scan in the information about your type of cancer.