General, Musculoskeletal, Vascular Ultrasounds

Ultrasound is a safe and widely used imaging technique. Ultrasound produces detailed pictures of the body in real time using high frequency sound waves, which are produced by a special ultrasound probe called a transducer.  The probe sends sound waves into the body and then "listens" for echoes reflected back from body structures. The frequency of these sound waves is higher than that detected by the human ear and, when they are reflected by a part of the body, are detected by the probe. An ultrasound image is produced by the specially trained and certified sonographer from these detected echoes based upon their intensity and time taken by them to return to the probe.  The images are captured in real time on the monitor and they appear as both static and moving images enhancing the diagnostic capability of the test. 

Ultrasound has no known harmful effects and can be used to image a variety of conditions including pregnancy, gallstones and varicose veins. Ultrasound can also be used to measure blood flow through vessels, when it is called a colour-flow Doppler or Duplex scan.

Many of these ultrasounds require the patient to prepare/have preparation done for the test. It is important that you follow the instructions given to ensure your study can be completed the day it is scheduled.  All un-prepped patients will need to be re-booked.

At TDMH, abdomen, pelvic, OB, small parts, aspirations, biopsies, vascular studies (veins), carotid doppler studies and heart ultrasounds (echocardiography) are performed.

Hours of operation:  Monday through Saturday (no Sunday appointments)

Why are you having an Ultrasound?

Ultrasound can be used to image many areas of the body including the pelvis and abdomen, the musculoskeletal system, the breast, the male reproductive system, the kidney, the thyroid, and salivary glands, the gall bladder, the pancreas and the developing fetus.

Who will perform the scan?

Your examination or scan will be performed by fully trained and certified ultrasonographer (a specially trained technologist). Because the technologist is ensuring all areas are imaged accurately for interpretation there is a high degree of concentration required. Therefore family and friends of the patient are not permitted to watch the procedure. If you have accompanying children you will have to bring along someone to watch them during your examination.

Booking and Preparation

You will need to make an appointment for this examination. Depending on the area of the body to be examined you may be asked to fast from food and fluids for a period of time before your scan. Alternatively, some examinations require you to drink a significant amount of water prior to arriving so that your bladder is full. You will be advised of the appropriate preparation when you make your appointment.

Procedure

For most ultrasound examinations you will be required to change into a gown and lie on an examination bed. You will remain covered during your examination except for the area being imaged. In order to obtain optimal images a layer of gel will be applied to the area being imaged so that good contact is made between you and the ultrasound probe. The probe will be placed directly onto the gel and your skin for the duration of the examination. Ultrasound examinations are not painful and generally are not invasive but sometimes they can be uncomfortable if you have to maintain a full bladder or move a body part that might be causing you some discomfort, e.g. a shoulder.

Colour Doppler ultrasound uses a special technology that looks at blood flow through the arteries and veins, for example – the carotid arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain, or the veins of the legs. If you are having this examination it is common to hear strange noises as the signals coming from the flowing blood are converted into sound. Sometimes the sonographer will have to gently squeeze the calf a few times when examining the veins in the legs. This should not be painful.

Ultrasound Biopsies

On occasion, a biopsy, or sample of tissue, may be required by your doctor to diagnose a medical problem. If you are required to have a biopsy, the test will be performed by a radiologist while on site. Biopsies have specific requirements, and may require special preparation (you will be advised by the ordering physician or patient care provider of your appointment date and time).

The specimen will then be sent to a pathology laboratory for processing and the results will be forwarded to your doctor. This may take from 2-4 weeks to receive the biopsy tissue results.

How long will the procedure take?

Most ultrasound examinations will be completed within 30 minutes; however, some studies such as Obstetrical and colour Doppler studies will take up to 60 minutes to complete. The radiologist will then interpret all images produced during the examination and the results will be forwarded to your doctor in 2-3 business days.

Important: The ultrasonographers will not be able inform you of any results.  Please contact your physician or patient care provider for this information.

Preparing for Ultrasound

Abdominal Ultrasound - Prep required*
Abdominal ultrasound is used to evaluate the liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas, aorta and gallbladder. The exam is painless and is generally completed within 30 minutes. Ultrasound can sometimes identify abnormalities not visible by other imaging methods and can compliment other imaging techniques such as Computed Tomography (C.T.). The technologist may need to apply pressure to get better images. If this becomes uncomfortable, please tell the technologist.

Pelvic Ultrasound - Prep required*
A full bladder is generally required in order to perform this exam, which is painless and is generally completed within 30 minutes. Pelvic ultrasound is primarily used to examine the uterus, ovaries and bladder in female patients and the bladder and prostate in male patients. The technologist may need to apply pressure to get better images. If this becomes uncomfortable, please tell the technologist.

Obstetrical Ultrasound - Prep required*
Obstetrical ultrasounds are used to evaluate pregnancies at all stages. A full bladder is generally required in order to perform the exam, which is normally painless and is generally completed within 60 minutes. The technologist may need to apply pressure to get better images. If this becomes uncomfortable, please tell the technologist.

Breast Ultrasound- Prep not required*
Breast ultrasound examinations are preformed regularly in conjunction with a mammogram as needed. Preparation is not required and the examination is normally painless. The technologist may need to apply pressure to get better images. If this becomes uncomfortable, please tell the technologist.

Small Parts - Prep not usually required*
Small parts ultrasounds include many different areas, such as the groin, testicles, lumps, bumps, extremities and shoulder. A preparation is not usually required and the examination is normally painless. The technologist may need to apply pressure to get better images. If this becomes uncomfortable, please tell the technologist.

Vascular Ultrasound - Prep not required*
Vascular ultrasound is used to examine the veins of the body for areas of blockage, narrowing, clot formation, trauma and congenital malformation. The exam produces a color image of the blood vessels that provides the technologist with information about the speed and direction of blood flow. Regions of narrowing can be seen directly that can be evaluated for severity. The technologist may need to apply pressure to get better images. If this becomes uncomfortable, please tell the technologist.

Echocardiogram / Heart Ultrasound (Echocardiogram, 2D ECHO) – Prep not required*
An echocardiogram uses sound waves to look at the size, shape, and motion of the heart. The exam shows the 4 chambers of the heart, heart valves and the walls of the heart, blood vessels entering and leaving the heart and the Pericardium-the sac that surrounds the heart.  The exam is painless and is generally completed within 60 minutes. The technologist may need to apply pressure to get better images. If this becomes uncomfortable, please tell the technologist. After the test, call your doctor if you have worsening heart-related symptoms.

Ultrasound Biopsies - Preps will be given to you as required.
Ultrasound is commonly used to guide biopsies of organs or masses. When a biopsy is performed a needle is used to remove a few cells or a very small piece of tissue. The sample is then sent to the pathology department for analysis. Analysis of the sample takes approximately 1 week, and the results are sent to your doctor.

*NOTE: If not properly prepared, the examination will be rescheduled.

Day of Appointment

Patients should arrive 15 minutes before their appointment time.  Patients arriving late may be rescheduled.

Please be aware that this is a "Fragrance Free" facility.

Please do not bring small children to your appointment unless accompanied by another adult.

Directions

Park in the North parking lot, located off Rolph Street and enter the hospital through the Emergency (ER) Entrance. Continue to Registration, just up the hall and on the right.

If you are scheduled on a Saturday, you will need to register to the left at Switchboard, just located inside the ER doors.

If you have any questions or need to re-schedule your appointment, please contact our scheduling department at 519-842-6335 (Monday-Friday 8:30-4:00).

Please bring your health card and requisition.

NOTE: If not properly prepared, the examination will be rescheduled.