Skip to main content
Dartmouth-Hitchcock logo
Summer Flowers In This Section


What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is the use of sound waves to make pictures of organs and tissues in the body. It is painless and safe. Sound waves do not damage tissue, even when used to examine a baby before it is born. Ultrasound produces precise images of your organs (heart, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, etc.) and reveals motion such as blood flowing. Ultrasound can help your doctor make a quick and accurate diagnosis by detecting damaged tissue, locating abnormal growths, and identifying a wide variety of conditions.

What will the exam be like?

You will be greeted by our receptionist initially. At the time of your appointment, a sonographer will assist you into an examination room. A warm gel is applied to the area of your body to be studied. The sonographer will scan you with a transducer which is painless. The images of your body will appear on the monitor similar to a TV screen. The sonographer will give you any special instructions, such as breath holding or turning from one side to another. These images are recorded for detailed study by the radiologist who is specially trained in ultrasound. After your exam, a radiologist will interpret the images and generate a report.  Your physician will share your ultrasound results with you.

How long does the exam take?

The examination takes from 30 to 60 minutes from start to finish depending upon the part of your body being studied.

Are there special preparations for the exam?

Depending upon the area of your body we are scanning, there may be special instructions. If you are having a scan of your abdomen, we ask that you not eat for eight hours before the scan so we can see your abdominal organs clearly.

My doctor ordered an ultrasound study of my prostate gland.

Ultrasound transducers can be placed inside the rectum to give an excellent picture of the prostate gland. This examination is often done to guide biopsy of an area of your prostate that your doctor may have felt on examination. In general, patients tolerate the scan very well and experience minimal discomfort during the scan.

My doctor ordered an ultrasound study of my uterus.

The uterus can be examined from across the lower abdomen with a full urinary bladder or by placing a slender probe in the vagina. The transvaginal scanning is done with a special slender probe the size of a speculum that you will place inside the vagina and the sonographer will steer to obtain detailed images of the uterus and ovaries.

My doctor ordered an ultrasound of my ovaries for ovulation induction.

Ultrasound is routinely used to follow the progress of ovulation induction treatment. The first time you are examined, a comprehensive scan of your pelvis will be done. This allows the sonographer to recognize any problems such as endometriosis or unusual ovaries which may cause infertility. After the initial exam you will need periodic exams to count the number of follicles that are developing. The exam may be done with an internal or external probe depending on the location of your ovaries.

How will I learn of the results?

The staff radiologist or radiology resident will usually discuss the results of the exam with you after the exam, but on occasion you may see only the technologist. All ultasound studies are reviewed by the radologist before you leave the department. Any abnormal or worrisome findings are communicated to your doctor immediately. A formal written report is sent to your doctor within one to two days.

Contact Us