OSF St. Joseph Medical Center

Bloomington, Illinois


Ultrasound imaging, otherwise known as sonography, uses sound waves to produce images of structures in your body. During an ultrasound exam, an acoustic gel is applied to your skin and a small hand-held device, called a transducer, is used to image various organs and/or blood vessels. Because ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation to create images, it is a safe way to image a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

However, ultrasound has many other uses. It can be used to examine the liver, kidneys, pancreas, gall bladder, spleen, and urinary bladder as well as the uterus, ovaries, scrotum, and prostate gland. It can be used to guide needle placement for biopsies and fluid drainages. It is used to check for clots or narrowed areas in arteries and veins. There are other applications, as well.

Preparing for Your Test

Many ultrasound exams require no preparation. However, some require you to go without eating for eight to 12 hours, and to refrain from smoking. You may be asked to drink water prior to your ultrasound to fill your bladder for the exam. You should receive the instructions for preparation from your doctor's office. You should wear comfortable clothing to your appointment as you will be lying on a table.

What to Expect

Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled test. Check in through the Admitting Department located at Entrance A. Admitting will then direct you to the ultrasound.

How is the Exam Performed?

Most of the time, you will be lying on a table in a darkened room while the ultrasound is being performed. The sonographer will apply gel to the area being examined. It conducts the sound waves into your body. The transducer is then moved across the area sending out sound waves and receiving the echoes. The echoes are processed by a computer and displayed on a monitor. The sonographer selects images which are sent to a monitor to be viewed by the radiologist.

An ultrasound exam can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours depending on the exam being performed. Although the transducer is usually placed on the outside of the body, there are certain gynecological and obstetrical exams that require the transducer to be placed in the vagina to obtain the highest quality images. These transducers are specially designed for maximum quality and minimum patient discomfort.

Results & Recovery

Your test will be read by a Radiologist (doctor specializing in medical imaging). Results are available to your physician’s office within 24 to 48 hours; but, it may take some time for your physician to review your results. You can make plans with your ordering doctor on how to receive your test results (such as follow-up doctor appointment, calling the doctor’s office, etc.).


To schedule or cancel an appointment, please call (309) 661-5160. Hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. We do need to have a valid order from a physician to schedule an appointment.