A method to monitor inside the body
A safe way to build a picture of inside the body
An ultrasound scan (sonogram) is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of the body.
An ultrasound scan can be used to monitor a pregnancy, diagnose a condition, or guide a surgeon during certain procedures. At Marie Stopes, we generally use ultrasound scans to monitor the progress and health of the pregnancy.
How ultrasound scans work
A small device called an ultrasound probe is used, which gives off high-frequency sound waves.
You can’t hear these sound waves, but when they bounce off different parts of the body, they create “echoes” that are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image.
This image is displayed on a monitor while the scan is carried out.
Preparing for an ultrasound scan
Before having an ultrasound scan, you may be asked to follow certain instructions to help improve the quality of the images produced.
Depending on the area of your body being examined, the hospital may ask you to remove some clothing and wear a hospital gown.
If you need a sedative to help you relax, this will be given through a small tube into the back of your hand or into your arm. In some cases, you may also be given an injection of a harmless substance called a contrast agent before the scan, as this can make the images clearer.
What to expect during an ultrasound scan
Most ultrasound scans last between 15 and 45 minutes.
There are different kinds of ultrasound scans, depending on which part of the body is being scanned and why. Before your appointment, we can speak to you in more detail about the the ultrasound scan and what to expect.
Following an ultrasound scan
In most cases, there are no after-effects and you can go home soon after the scan is finished.
If a sedative wasn’t used, you can drive, eat, drink and return to your other normal activities straight away.
If you had an endoscopic ultrasound and were given a sedative to help you relax, you’ll usually be advised to stay in hospital for a few hours, until the medication starts to wear off. You’ll need to arrange for someone to pick you up from the hospital and stay with you for the next 24 hours.
You may be told the results of your scan soon after it’s been carried out, but in most cases the images will need to be analysed and we contact you a few days later or at your next appointment, if one has been arranged.
Find a clinic
Ultrasound scans are available at all of our clinics. Find the closest centre to you.