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Johns Hopkins Medical Imaging

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Ultrasound

An ultrasound, also called a sonogram, uses sound waves to produce images of soft tissues inside the body. Sound waves move through the body and based on the frequency, the signals are translated into images on a computer. Ultrasound can also be used for a tissue or fluid biopsy.

Learn more about ultrasound exams in the Johns Hopkins Health Library.

How do I prepare for an ultrasound exam?

Based on your medical condition, your health care provider may require other specific preparations.

  • Abdominal Ultrasound

    EAT/DRINK:

    • A.M. appointment: Nothing to eat or drink from midnight the evening before until after the examination. Patient may take medications with a small amount of water.
    • P.M. appointment: Clear liquid breakfast (no milk) before 9 a.m. Do not eat or drink anything after breakfast. Patients may take medications with a small amount of water.
  • Biophysical Profile Study

    EAT/DRINK: Patients should eat a meal one hour prior to appointment, preferably with carbohydrates.

    Patients who are having both a biophysical profile study in addition to an obstetric ultrasound are required to follow both preparations.

  • Gallbladder, Liver and Pancreas Ultrasound

    EAT/DRINK:

    • A.M. appointment: Nothing to eat or drink from twelve midnight the evening before until after the examination. Patient may take medications with a small amount of water.
    • P.M. appointment: Clear liquid breakfast (no milk) before 9 a.m. Do not eat or drink anything after breakfast. Patients may take medications with a small amount of water.
  • Obstetric Ultrasound (Pregnancy Ultrasound)

    EAT/DRINK: Drink 24 – 36 ounces of fluid at least one hour before the appointment. Do not urinate until after the exam.

  • Pelvic Ultrasound

    EAT/DRINK: Drink 24 – 36 ounces of fluid at least one hour before the appointment. Do not urinate until after the exam.

  • Prostate Ultrasound

    EAT/DRINK: Drink 24 ounces of fluid at least one hour before the appointment. Do not urinate until after the exam.

  • Renal Artery Doppler/Duplex

    EAT/DRINK:

    • A.M. appointment: Nothing to eat or drink from midnight the evening before until after the examination. Patient may take medications with a small amount of water.
    • P.M. appointment: Clear liquid breakfast (no milk) before 9 a.m. Do not eat or drink anything after breakfast. Patients may take medications with a small amount of water.
  • Renal and Bladder Ultrasound

    EAT/DRINK: Drink 24 ounces of fluid at least one hour before the appointment. Do not urinate until after the exam.

  • Renal Ultrasound

    No specific preparation is needed.

  • Transvaginal Ultrasound

    No specific preparation is needed.

What happens during an ultrasound exam?

  1. You will be asked to remove any clothing or jewelry that may interfere with the exam. If you are asked to remove clothing, you will be given a gown to wear.
  2. You will lie on an exam table on your back, side or stomach, depending on the specific area to be examined.
  3. Ultrasound gel is placed on the area of the body that is being examined.

Learn more about what happens during an ultrasound exam.

What happens after an ultrasound exam?

There is typically no special type of care following an ultrasound. However, your health care provider may give you additional instructions depending on your specific health condition.

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