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Imaging (Radiology)

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the body. It helps diagnose many medical conditions inside the body, including the causes of pain, swelling or infection. It can be used to help guide biopsies and the draining of fluid.

Ultrasound is safe for adults, children and pregnant women. It is non-invasive and does not use radiation.

A gel is applied to the skin in the region for examination which helps to move the probe (transducer) over the skin and produces a clearer image. The probe (transducer) generates sound waves which are reflected back from the internal organs to produce a diagnostic image on the monitor.

One of the ultrasound machines at our hospitals. An example of an ultrasound scan.
One of the ultrasound machines at our hospitals.
An ultrasound machine
An example of an ultrasound scan.
An ultrasound scan

Who performs the ultrasound examinations?

We have a skilled mix of both male and female consultant radiologists and sonographers, many of whom have advanced ultrasound skills in sub-specialist areas.

The department trains student Sonographers and medical radiology Registrars. These trainees are supervised by a qualified member of staff at all times. If you would be prefer not to be scanned by a trainee please do not hesitate to let us know.

All intimate examinations will have a chaperone as per the hospital policy and we are usually able to provide a chaperone for all examinations.

Examinations performed in the department

  • Abdomen – Liver, Pancreas, Gall bladder, Spleen, Kidneys
  • Urinary Tract – Kidneys, Bladder, Prostate
  • Pelvis – Uterus, Ovaries
  • Paediatrics – Abdomen, Urinary Tract, Pelvis, Hips, Brain, Testes, Lumps
  • Testes
  • Head and neck – thyroid, parathyroid, salivary glands, lymph nodes, lumps and bumps
  • Musculo-skeletal
  • Hernias – abdominal and groin (inguinal, femoral)
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis of the arms or legs
  • Transplants – Liver, Kidney, Pancreas, Multi-visceral
  • Small bowel
  • Lumps and Bumps
  • Interventional procedures which include tissue biopsies and drainage of fluid or abscesses.

Preparing for your appointment

In order to get the best images, we may ask you to prepare before your examination. The details of the preparation will be included in your appointment letter so please read it carefully.

Below are examples of the type of preparation we may require:

Abdominal scan: Please fast for six hours prior to the examination but clear fluids can still be taken. This helps us to see the gall bladder

Urinary tract and pelvic scan: Please have a full bladder. This helps move the bowel out of the pelvis so the organs can be seen and is used as an “acoustic window” to see the pelvic organs more clearly.

Tissue Biopsy: Please let the department know if you are on blood thinners, for example: warfarin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), apixaban (Eliquis), edoxaban (Savaysa), and betrixaban (Bevyxxa).

After a biopsy: You may be asked to remain in the waiting room for 10 - 20 minutes after your biopsy. This is to make sure you suffer no immediate side effects.

How long does an ultrasound examination take?

Most examinations take 10 to 20 minutes. A biopsy or interventional procedure may take 30 minutes. Please arrive a few minutes before your appointment to allow time to be checked in at the reception desk.

When and who gets the ultrasound report?

The report is written once the scan is over and will be sent to the referring doctor who asked for the scan. This usually takes 48 hours.

Are there any risks associated with ultrasound?

Ultrasound uses sound waves and is a safe diagnostic tool for adults, children, and pregnant women. No radiation is used.