An ultrasound scan uses sound waves to create images of organs and structures inside your body. It is a very commonly used and painless test. It is thought to be very safe because it uses sound waves and not radiation. 

What is an ultrasound scan?

An ultrasound scan is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create a live, moving image of part of the inside of the body. This image of internal organs, tissue and vessels is displayed on a monitor while the scan is performed.

A camera-like device called an ultrasound probe is used, which gives off high-frequency sound waves.

An ultrasound scan has many uses, including monitoring an unborn baby, diagnosing a condition or guiding a surgeon during certain procedures.

Prepare for your ultrasound

There are various preparations required for ultrasound scans, depending on the type of examination you are having. If preparation is required, we will let you know in advance in your appointment letter.

Please inform us at the time of appointment booking if you are diabetic or on regular medication.

All ultrasound scans need a referral letter from your GP or consultant.

What should you wear?

We recommend that you wear comfortable clothes that you can easily change out of if necessary. We also advise that you wear a minimal amount of jewellery, as you may need to take it off.

What happens during an ultrasound?

You will be asked to lie on an ultrasound examination couch. The radiographer/sonographer will apply some gel to the area of your body which is being examined.

You must lie very still while each picture is taken, to avoid blurring the images. You may also be asked to hold your breath for a moment during the scan. You shouldn't feel any pain during the ultrasound scan.

An ultrasound scan usually takes 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the area of the body being examined. If you have any questions, please contact your consultant within the hospital.

What happens after an ultrasound?

In most cases, you will be able to leave the Radiology Department immediately and return to normal activities.

Your images will be studied by a radiologist (doctor who uses X-rays to diagnose and treat illnesses) and the results will be sent to the doctor who referred you.

You may already have an appointment with the doctor who referred you. If not, you may need to contact them to discuss the results and any potential treatment you may need.

If you are a hospital inpatient, the results will be available to the doctors looking after you on the ward.

Getting results

Results will be sent to your referring clinician.

  • GP results will be sent out within five to seven working days
  • Outpatients will receive results at their next outpatient appointment

GP practices can avail of an electronic system to gain access to their patients' results. Please contact if your practice is interested in using this system.

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