Ultrasound, or sonography, is a noninvasive imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to view organs inside your body. There are no known risks to ultrasound and it does not expose you to radiation.
UNC Medical Center is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) in general, gynecological, and abdominal vascular ultrasound, as well as in breast ultrasound so you know our specially trained staff provide the highest quality, most-up-to-date care.
When Is Ultrasound Used?
Your doctor may use an ultrasound to:
- Evaluate symptoms like pain, swelling and infection
- Examine internal organs
- Diagnose breast cancer
- Diagnose heart and vascular conditions using an echocardiogram
- Evaluate blood flow using a Doppler ultrasound
- Guide a surgeon during minimally invasive procedures, including biopsies
- Monitor an unborn baby during pregnancy
What to Expect at an Ultrasound
When you come to UNC Medical Center for an ultrasound, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown or remove jewelry.
Depending on your exam, your doctor may ask you to avoid food or fluids before the test, or to drink a lot of water so you have a full bladder during the test. Follow instructions for the most accurate results.
Ultrasound exams don’t hurt, and they usually take 30 minutes to an hour. For most exams, you will recline on an examination table for the procedure. A radiologist or sonographer will apply a warm gel to the area of the body being studied, and then glide a device called a transducer over your skin to capture black and white images called sonograms.
In some ultrasound tests, the transducer is attached to a probe to better examine internal organs like the heart (transesophageal echocardiogram), the digestive tract (endoscopic ultrasound), the prostate (transrectal ultrasound) or the uterus and ovaries (transvaginal ultrasound).
Your Ultrasound Results
A radiologist will interpret your sonogram and give a report to your doctor. Your physician will share the results with you and discuss any follow-up care.