Ultrasound is used to create images of soft tissue structures, such as the gallbladder, liver, kidneys, pancreas, bladder, and other organs and parts of the body. Ultrasound can also measure the flow of blood in the arteries to detect blockage


  • Ultrasounds have shown to have no risk on the human body. They are of limited value in the context of bones and gas blocking view to other structures.
  • Your doctor may request other tests such as X-Ray or CT scan to look at bones, etc.

How to Prepare

Prep instructions should be given to you when your test is scheduled. You may need to go without food and drink 6 hours before certain exams. Pelvic Ultrasounds require you to consume a certain amount of water before the exam.

What to Expect

  • You may be asked to wear loose, comfortable clothing and remove clothing, jewelry or any metal object from the area that is being examined. You may be asked to change into a gown.
  • A trained technician will apply a cool gel to an ultrasound transducer (probe-like, hand-held device) or to your body area. This gel protects from any air bubbles that may block the sound needed to create the images.
  • For internal ultrasounds, the transducer is attached to a probe that is inserted into the body part. Examples are:
    • Transvaginal Ultrasounds – inserted into the vaginal to obtain images of the uterus and ovaries.
  • You may experience some discomfort if you are having an internal examination done.
  • Once the test is done, it is sent to a radiologist for interpretation and relayed to your doctor who will then give you the results of the findings.

Ultrasound. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ultrasound/about/pac-20395177 Accessed January 28, 2019.

Abdominal Ultrasound

Abdominal ultrasound is used to evaluate kidneys, liver, galbladder, bile ducts, pancreas, spleen and abdominal aorta.


There are no known risks of this procedure.

How to Prepare

Typically, you should have nothing by mouth after midnight of the previous day.

What to Expect

  • A tech will prepare the ultrasound transducer and your abdomen with the water-based gel that allows for better image quality as sound waves are better transmitted with the use of the gel. Images of the abdominal structures will be taken to assesses for any disease.
  • The test takes about 30 minutes to complete and is painless and non-invasive.
  • Results will be sent from a radiologist to your doctor for them to review with you.

Abdominal Ultrasound. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/abdominal-ultrasound/about/pac-20392738 Accessed January 29, 2019.

Arterial Duplex Scan

An Arterial Duplex Scan, also known as an Arterial Ultrasound, is a painless, non-invasive test that uses sound waves to produce images. These images show how well and how much blood is flowing through the blood vessels that supply blood from your heart to other parts of your body. The ultrasound images are much like a movie and allow your doctor to see and hear the blood flow, and determine if there are any blockages or narrowing’s which may reduce blood flow.


There are no known risks to this test.

How to Prepare

No preparation needed.

What to Expect

  • An Arterial Duplex Scan takes approximately 30-45 minutes.
  • You will be asked to lay down onto a bed. A tech will begin the examination and instruct you along the way.
  • Test results will be sent to your physician who will discuss them with you.

Artenial Duplex Scan. The Queen’s Medical Group. https://www.queens.org/heart/services/vascular-ultrasounds/arterial-duplex-scan-qmc Last accessed January 31, 2019.

Carotid Ultrasound

Carotid ultrasound is a painless ultrasound that uses high frequency sound waves to beable to view the inside of the carotid artery.

Your doctor may order this test if you have symptoms of a stroke or have risk factors that can lead to stroke to include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Family history of stroke and/or heart disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • If there’s a bruit found while your doctor examines your neck. This is an abnormal sound heard when the doctor uses a stethoscope to listen.
  • To locate other carotid artery diseases
  • Evaluate blood flow after surgery to remove plaques

How to Prepare

  • Wear comfortable clothing and a shirt without a collar or obstruction around the neck
  • Avoid dangling earrings or jewelry near or around the neck

What to Expect

  • The ultrasound tech will prepare you by laying you flat on the bed and may have you turn your head in one direction followed by the next.
  • The tech will use a transducer as mentioned in ultrasound (add link to word) with gel gently applied to the neck areas of focus. The gel helps transmission of ultrasound waves. The tech may use a Doppler to measure the sound waves.
  • These results are sent to a radiologist who interprets the results and send them back to your doctor for them to review with you.

Additional testing of the Carotid Arteries

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/Angiography (MRI/MRA)

Using magnetic field and radio waves, images of soft tissues are produced. MRA may be used to highlight blood vessels in the body.

  • Computerized Tomography Angiogram (CTA)

CTA is a series of detailed X-rays to highlight blood vessels in the neck using contrast dye that is administered through IV.

Carotid Duplex. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003774.htm. Accessed January 28, 2019.

Carotid ultrasound. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/carotid-ultrasound . Accessed January 28, 2019.

Carotid ultrasound. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/carotid-ultrasound/about/pac-20393399. Accessed January 28, 2019.


An echocardiogram is an ultrasound o show how your heart muscle and valves are working in your heart. It is used to assess the overall function of the heart, determine heart disease, valve disease, endocarditis, cardiac masses and congenital heart disease.

  • Types of Echocardiograms
  • Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE). The sonographer (technician) will firmly press the transducer on your chest sending beams to your heart. This is done externally and there is no known risk associated with this test.
  • Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE). For more details imagery. Your throat will be numbered and you will be given medications to help you relax. A flexible tube with a transducer attached will be guided into your esophagus. The sound waves produce images that can be viewed on the monitor by your doctor. Your doctor will order this test for you to be done at another facility. This may cause throat soreness after the test. Your breathing is monitored during the test.
  • Doppler Echocardiogram. This measures the speed at which blood is flowing through the heart to evaluate for differences in pressure or flow that cannot be seen on regular ultrasound. There is no known risk associated with this test.
  • Stress Echocardiogram. Images are taken before and after your heart is stressed either on a treadmill or via IV medication. This is used to detect for any abnormality in the coronary arteries but cannot given specific information on blockages. This will be ordered for you to have at an outside facility. This may cause an irregular heart beat. Serious consequences like myocardial infarction (heart attack) is rare. 

How to Prepare

No preparation needed.

What to Expect

  •  You will be asked to undress from the waist up and lie on the bed while the technician places electrodes on your chest to detect heart rhythm.
  • The sonographer will use the transducer with gel and roll it around on your chest as they obtain images necessary. You may be asked to roll to one side or hold your breath during the test.
  • Most tests take less than one hour and you may likely be able to return to activities as normal.
  • Results are sent to your doctor to review and share with you.

Echocardiogram. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/echocardiogram/about/pac-20393856. Accessed January 28, 2019.

Echocardiogram. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/diagnosing-a-heart-attack/echocardiogram-echo. Accessed January 28, 2019.

Thyroid Ultrasound

This test examines the gland that resides in the lower neck area and regulates hormones. The test examines for gland enlargement and/or nodularity present. Thyroid nudules are common but not all require treatment. This test may be ordered by your doctor if you have sensation of a lump in your throat, difficulty swallowing, or known thyroid nudules.


There are no risks associated with this type of ultrasound.

What to Expect

  • You do not need to prepare for this examination with any specific instructions.
  • You will be positioned by the tech on the table. They will use a transducer probe with gel and firmly apply it to the area to obtain images necessary.
  • The test takes about 20-30 minutes to complete.
  • You may resume activities as normal after the test is complete.
  • Results will be sent to your doctor for them to review with you.

Thyroid Ultrasound. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/15760-thyroid-ultrasound/test-details Accessed January 29, 2019.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

During this examination, a technician or your doctor will use a transducer to obtain sound waved that take images of your female organs to include ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. This may be used to diagnosed uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, pregnancy, mass of unknown origin, etc.


There are no known risks associated with this type of ultrasound. You may experience significant discomfort this the insertion of this probe. Let your technician know if you are too uncomfortable.

What to Expect

  • You will be asked to undress from the waist down and you may be asked to wear a gown.
  • You will be positioned according to the techs instructions. Continue to breathe deeply and evenly during the test.
  • You may resume all activities as normal and as you are comfortable.
  • A radiologist will interpret the images and send the results to your doctor who will review them with you at your next visit or sooner if needed.