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Imaging Radiology

Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas

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Ultrasound or Sonogram 

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What is a Sonogram?

A sonogram, also called an ultrasound, is a test that takes pictures of certain parts of the body by using sound waves. Through the use of a wand-like tool called a transducer, sound waves are sent into the body. As the sound waves hit different organs, waves are reflected back toward the transducer. The reflected sound waves make gray-colored images of various organs in your body. These pictures are shown on a screen. Sonograms often are used for obstetrical exams to provide information on how the pregnancy is progressing. Sonograms also have wide applications for detecting disease in the body.

What Happens During a Sonogram?

For some sonograms, you may be asked to change into an exam gown. During a sonogram, you lie on a padded table that is next to the sonogram machine. The part of your body being examined is uncovered and the technician applies a gel to this area. The gel helps the sound waves pass through the skin. The sonogram wand is then moved across the area. During the sonogram, you may be asked to hold your breath for a brief moment or to roll onto your side. Sonograms do not hurt and they do not expose you to any radiation. 

How Do I Prepare?

Some sonograms have special instructions you must follow before arriving for your exam. If you are having a sonogram of the abdomen, gallbladder or aorta, you should not have anything to eat or drink 8 hours prior to your appointment. This includes smoking, chewing gum or tobacco. If you are having a pelvic sonogram or an obstetrical sonogram in the first trimester of pregnancy, you need to drink 32 ounces of water one hour before the exam.

Please do not empty your bladder after drinking the water. A full bladder is needed to perform these exams. Thyroid and carotid sonograms, as well as venous studies, do not require any special preparation. 

What Happens After the Sonogram?

A radiologist reads your sonogram, and the results are reported directly back to your doctor. Your insurance is filed for the sonogram. You are responsible for any co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles that have not been met. Co-pays, co-insurance, and the deductibles are due at the time of service.

Questions About This Procedure?

If you have any additional questions about this procedure, please contact a member of the Baylor Diagnostic Imaging Center staff where you are scheduled. For addresses, phone numbers and directions to each imaging center, please click the link below.

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