General Diagnostic Ultrasound


What is an ultrasound? An ultrasound study is a test performed by a qualified health care professional called a sonographer or ultrasound technologist. Most ultrasound examinations should be painless; it uses sound waves to image anatomy instead of radiation. This is one of the safest diagnostic exams available in medicine today.

What happens during my exam? You will be asked to arrive prepared for your exam. Then the technologist will have you undress according to the study being performed. A colorless, semiodorless, warm gel will be applied to the area being scanned that will help transmit the sound waves better. As the transducer is moved around, the organs being imaged show up on a monitor for the technologist. The technologist knows what images the radiologist needs to interpret a diagnosis and will be able to capture the live images on the machine.

How does it work? Sound waves bounce off the surface of objects and reflect as an echo in the screen. Highly trained individuals produce and read the images and can identify organs and blood vessels.

To ensure I get the best ultrasound exam:

  • It is important to arrive on time or a little early so you do not have to be rescheduled; it is critical to have appropriate time to complete your study.
  • Be prepared with the exact directions on the back of this sheet. If you are instructed to drink water or fast, please follow the specific instructions.
  • If you have any questions before your examination, please call 503-399-2484.
  • If you cannot stand up in order to transfer to the ultrasound bed easily, you may need more time for your exam. So that you do not have to be rescheduled, please call ahead to see if we have made proper preparations for your exam.
  • Speak up - Tell your technologist what your symptoms are, if you are going to be seeing a specialist or a surgeon shortly after your exam. This will also help us to process your exam in time for follow-up appointments or be able to communicate with your provider.

What does the pelvic examination involve: When scheduling for a pelvic or first trimester OB ultrasound, we would like our patients to know that there are two required methods to image this area; one is outside the abdomen and the second is inside the vaginal area. To get a complete exam it requires that some images be obtained with a special internal instrument, called a probe or transducer. This is usually done at the end of the procedure. This transducer will have a protective cover and gel applied before insertion. There is also a possibility of having a male sonographer perform your examination. First, when you arrive, with a full bladder, some transabdominal images will be taken. Then you will be escorted to a restroom where you will be allowed to empty your bladder completely. When you return you will be instructed about the transvaginal or internal exam by the ultrasound technologist. After the instructions, the male sonographer will step out of the room to allow you (the patient) to insert the transducer a short distance - only two inches - into the vaginal canal. Once you have the transducer in place and are fully covered by a sheet, our sonographer will re-enter the room with a female chaperone. He will then take the handle of the probe and obtain the necessary images to complete the exam.

How will I know the results? An interpreted report by a specialist (Radiologist) will be sent to your physician. Your physician will contact you in the normal way they usually contact you with test results. Please let the technologist know of where your last vascular ultrasound was performed, this can help assist them in finding any previous studies if needed. If you have any questions, you may call the Radiology Department directly at 503-399-2484.

Patient Preparation: Preparation must be completed properly or exam will be rescheduled to the next available appointment

  • Upper Abdominal Sonogram: Do not eat or drink anything 8 hours prior to the exam.
  • Aorta Sonogram: Do not eat or drink anything 8 hours prior to the exam.
  • Pelvis Sonogram: Drink 20 ounces of water 1 hour to ½ hour prior to the exam time, so bladder is full.
  • Obstetrical Sonogram: Drink 20 ounces of water 1 hour to ½ hour prior to the exam time, so bladder is full.
  • Carotid Sonogram: No preparation.
  • Appendix Sonogram: No preparation.
  • Renal Sonogram: No preparation.
  • Breast Sonogram: No preparation.
  • Thyroid Sonogram: No preparation.
  • Testicular Sonogram: No preparation.

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