Abdominal or Pelvic Ultrasound

ExitCare ImageUltrasound uses harmless sound waves instead of X-rays to take pictures of the inside of your body. A probe or wand device (transducer) is held up against your body to capture these pictures. The continually changing images can be recorded on videotape or film. Diagnostic ultrasound imaging is commonly called sonography or ultrasonography.

There are different types of ultrasound exams. An ultrasound of the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas can show gallstones, masses, cysts, inflammation, infection, or enlarged organs. An ultrasound of the kidneys can show cysts, masses, kidney stones, and kidney size and shape. A pelvic ultrasound can show the uterus, ovaries, and cysts or masses. An obstetrical ultrasound shows the position of the fetus, measurements for maturity, fetal heartbeat, and fetal organs. A breast, thyroid, or testicular ultrasound can show if a nodule is solid or cystic.


Ultrasound has been used for many years and has never shown any harmful effects. Studies in humans have shown no direct link between the use of ultrasound and adverse outcomes.


Other than drinking water, do not eat or drink for 8 to 12 hours before the test or as directed by your caregiver. Follow any other diet instructions from your caregiver. If you are having a pelvic ultrasound, you may need to drink a lot of liquid before the exam. A full bladder helps to see the organs behind the bladder better.


There is no pain in an ultrasound exam. A gel is applied to your skin, and the transducer is then placed on the area to be examined. The gel may feel cool. The gel wipes off easily, but it is a good idea to wear clothing that is easily washable.

The images from inside your body are displayed on one or more monitors that look like small television screens. The returning sound waves produce pictures of the organs that were in the path of the sound sent from the transducer. The room is usually darkened during the exam. This makes it easier to see the images on the monitor. The ultrasound exam should take less than 1 hour.


You can safely drive home and return to regular activities immediately after the exam. Ask when your test results will be ready. Make sure you get your test results.