Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, is a method of obtaining pictures or images from inside the human body. It involves sending very high frequency sound waves through the body. These sound waves are reflected off the internal organs. The reflections are then processed by special instruments and powerful computers that subsequently measure and create a visual image of the organs. Ultrasound images are captured in real time and displayed on a monitor. Ultrasound has revolutionised the care of women during pregnancy and in the UK, is a routine part of care, usually performed when a woman first attends the antenatal clinic and often again at 18 to 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Ultrasound can be used for imaging in the areas listed in “Services”.
An ultrasound examination is a painless, usually non-invasive, procedure. There are several methods of performing the examination depending on the part of the body being examined. When you arrive for a scan you may be shown to a cubicle and asked to take off your outer clothing down to your underwear and put on a hospital gown. Whether you have to undress or not will depend on the part of your body to be scanned. You will be and asked to lie on a couch next to the ultrasound machine. A clear, water-based gel will be spread onto your skin over the scanning site. This helps to transmit the sound waves to the microphone in the transducer. The Sonographer will press the transducer onto your skin and move it back and forth over the part of your body that is being scanned. The scan will appear on the machine screen. You will be awake throughout the examination. If you would like to have the image explained to you, just ask. Ultrasound scans are usually quite difficult to interpret if you don’t know what you are looking at. Depending on the type of scan being carried out, the examination will usually take between 5 minutes and half an hour. At the end of the scan, the sonographer will wipe the gel from your skin and you will be able to get off the couch and put on any clothes you may have removed. Some types of scan may require the transducer (probe) to be used internally. These are typically transvaginal or transrectal scans. When scanning the female pelvis, a transvaginal approach is used as it gives superior quality images. For this scan, small pen-shaped transducer is given a protective cover, lubricated with a small amount of gel and then gently inserted into the vagina up to the cervix to get the best image. It should not cause more than a slight discomfort. For any examinations requiring an internal examination, you should be accompanied by a chaperone provided by the hospital or clinic.
Generally, there is no complicated preparation required for ultrasound scans, although it is recommended to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, which can be easily removed if necessary. Different examinations require different preparations and you will be given relevant instructions for your type of scan before you arrive at the hospital or clinic. For some types of scan, you may be asked not to eat or drink for about 6 hours before the scan. If you are having your womb scanned, you will probably be asked to come to the appointment with a full bladder. This is because the full bladder pushes the womb up so it is in a position that is easier to scan. You may need a full bladder for a bladder scan too. There will be a toilet close by, so you will be able to go as soon as the scan is over.
You do not need a doctor’s referral, you can self -refer by contacting us via our website or by calling us on: 020 7101 3377.
No, you have to be minimum 18 years of age.
Indeed, having an Ultrasound scan is completely safe, it is done by using high frequency sound waves which has no harm to yourself or baby (if you are pregnant).
For many types of scan, particularly pregnancy scans, the person who is carrying out the examination will be able to explain the images and results to you during or just after the scan has taken place. In other cases, the sonographer will analyse the images and send a report with the interpretation of the scan to your referring doctor. It can take time for test results to come through, usually takes a couple of days. If your doctor needed the results urgently, it would have been noted on the scan request form and the results will be ready sooner than that.
Ultrasound has been used in pregnancy for nearly 30 years is generally considered a “safe” imaging modality. Medical research has found no side effects. No association has been shown between ultrasound exposure and the baby’s birth weight, childhood leukaemia or other cancers, eyesight, hearing or dyslexia. Even so, scanning should not be carried out without clear medical reasons and all ultrasound exposure should be justified and limited to the minimum needed to make a diagnosis. Diagnostic ultrasound examinations of the fetus are generally considered to be safe during pregnancy but should only be performed when there is a valid medical intention. Scans for non-diagnostic purposes, such as the creation of ‘keepsake’ or souvenir images or videos of the fetus are not recommended.
Yes, as a private service you will have to pay for your Ultrasound Scan yourself. By doing so, you will avoid long NHS waiting times.
We use water-based Ultrasound gel which is made for this purpose. There is no allergic reactions and is completely safe to use.
Yes, if we do not use the gel, we will not be able to produce any images. The ultrasound gel is used to provide maximum contact between the skin and the ultrasound probe.
We ask you to limit the number of anyone accompanying you to one, you can have people waiting for you at the reception area while you are having your scan.
We provide a chaperone when we perform a transvaginal (internal) scan or indeed any gynaecological scans.
When you arrive at The London Welbeck Hospital you will be greeted at the reception. You should inform them that you are there to have an ultrasound scan done. You will be given a Patient information form to fill in and then will be invited to the scan room where your scan will be done.
According to The British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS) for a study of the liver, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas, you may be asked to eat a fat-free meal on the evening before the test and then to avoid eating for eight to 12 hours before the test. For ultrasound of the kidneys, you may be asked to drink four to six glasses of liquid about an hour before the test to fill your bladder. You may be asked to avoid eating for eight to 12 hours before the test to avoid gas build up in the intestines.
Vascular ultrasound is carried out in order to monitor blood flow to organs and tissues throughout the body, locate and identify blockages and abnormalities like blood clots, plaque or emboli and help plan for their effective treatment. It can also be used to determine whether a patient is a good candidate for a procedure such as angioplasty or plan or evaluate the success of procedures that graft or bypass blood vessels. Vascular ultrasound can also help to identify areas of abnormal widening of blood vessels (aneurysm) that, if left untreated, can lead to serious consequences. In people with varicose veins, it can help to identify the source of the supply of these veins and help the surgeon decide how best to deal with this condition.
Ultrasound imaging in pregnancy is widely used to evaluate the baby. It can determine if a baby is present, the position of the fetus and if there is a multiple pregnancy. It can also help to diagnose abnormalities or problems; help determine the age of the pregnancy and subsequent due date as well as showing the position of the placenta in relation to the birth canal.
A Pelvic ultrasound scan is the most effective imaging modality used to examine the uterus and ovaries. It is may also be used during pregnancy to monitor the health and development of the embryo or fetus. In males, a pelvic ultrasound usually focuses on the bladder and prostate gland. There are two methods of performing pelvic ultrasound; Supra-pubic (through a full bladder) and transvaginal (via the vagina). For Supra-pubic ultrasound you will need a full bladder for the scan and will be advised on how much water to drink and how long before the examination. For transvaginal ultrasound, no preparation is required.
This is usually employed to examine the ovaries, pelvis or part of the womb. You will be asked to lie on your back with your knees bent and legs apart (as if you were having a smear test or an internal examination). If this position is difficult for you, you may be able to lie on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest. The sonographer will lubricate a small probe with gel and then insert this into the vagina. This may be slightly uncomfortable, but should not be painful. This type of scan does not take long.
The Thyroid Ultrasound Scan is used for diagnosing suspected thyroid disease, for example, a lump in the thyroid or a thyroid that is not functioning properly. Most scans are performed to look at palpable or visible “lumps”, or enlargement of the gland found during a clinical examination. The ultrasound can establish if the nodule is inside the thyroid gland or outside it and whether it is a cyst or a soft tissue nodule.
The Testicular Ultrasound Scan is used for the diagnosis of suspected abnormalities of the scrotum and is the main technique used to evaluate problems of the testicles and surrounding tissues. It is used when a patient has pain or feels a lump in the scrotum. Other indications for an ultrasound scan include an absent or undescended testicle, inflammation, testicular torsion (twisted testis), fluid collection, abnormal blood vessels or a mass (lump or tumour).
The Musculoskeletal (MSK) Ultrasound Scan provides pictures of muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and soft tissue throughout the body. This type of scanning is typically used to assist in the diagnosis of tendon tears, such as tears of the rotator cuff in the shoulder or Achilles tendon in the ankle, abnormalities of the muscles, such as tears and soft-tissue masses, bleeding or other fluid collections within the muscles or damage to the major joints.
Ultrasound Scan is used as a guide for steroid injections into joints and surrounding soft tissues as an effective treatment for painful joints.
Your sonographer will talk you through your scan and will email you your report within 24 /48 hours. In case of any emergency findings.
In case of an abnormality, your report will be produced immediately and you will be referred to the relevant medical specialist or your GP there and then.
If you have any questions that is not covered above, feel free to call us on