OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

Peoria, Illinois


What is an ultrasound?

ultrasound.jpg An ultrasound, also known as a sonogram, translates sound waves from your body into an image. Relying on sound, rather than radiation, an ultrasound is a very safe way to view a patient, internally. It is frequently used to analyze images of unborn children, organs and even veins and arteries.

During the exam, the patient lies on a table as a sonographer applies an acoustic gel to an area of the skin. He or she will then hold a small, hand-held, microphone-like device, called a transducer, over that area. The transducer sends sound waves into the body and  collects the reflected echoes they make. Those echoes translate into an image, which can be used as a diagnostic tool.

How to prepare for an ultrasound

  • While some exams require no preparation, others involve fasting for eight to 12 hours. Ask your nurse or physician.
  • You may be asked to refrain from smoking.
  • Some patients may have to drink water to fill their bladder prior to the exam.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • The exam can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours.

Getting your results

In most cases, your imaging exam will be interpreted within 24 hours. Please keep in mind that your doctor’s office may need additional time to incorporate the report into your personal medical record.