Diagnostic ultrasound, also called sonography, is an imaging method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within various parts of your body ( organs, glands, muscles, blood vessels and fetus). The images can provide valuable information for diagnosing and treating a variety of diseases and conditions.

Some ultrasounds are done inside your body. A transducer is attached to a probe that’s inserted into a natural opening in your body. Examples of these exams include:

  • Transrectal ultrasound. A transducer is inserted into a man’s rectum to view his prostate.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound. A transducer is inserted into a woman’s vagina to view her uterus and ovaries.

During an ultrasound exam, you may need to remove jewelry and some or all of your clothing, change into a gown, and lie on an examination table. Gel is applied to your skin to keep air pockets that can block the sound waves from forming.

How do I prepare for my ultrasound?

How you prepare for your ultrasound depends on the kind you are having. Here are some different types and how you can prepare:

Abdominal and/or pelvic:

This ultrasound lets us see the inside of your abdominal and/or pelvic area. This area of your body is between your chest and top of your legs.

How to prepare:

  • Don’t eat or drink after midnight the night before if your ultrasound is in the morning.
  • Don’t eat or drink after 7 am if your ultrasound is in the afternoon. Have a light, fat-free breakfast. For example, you can have dry toast and a glass of orange juice.
  • If you are diabetic, you can have 1 piece of dry toast and 1 glass of juice before your morning ultrasound.
  • If your ultrasound is for your abdomen and your pelvis, try not to go to the washroom for 2 hours before your test.

Obstetric:

This ultrasound lets us see your fetus (baby) and uterus. It can also help us see your ovaries.

How to prepare:

1st trimester (1st 3 months of pregnancy):

  • Eat and drink normally.
  • Don’t go to the washroom for 1 hour before your ultrasound.

You don’t have to do anything to prepare for the ultrasound if you are in your 2nd or 3rd trimester.

Transvaginal:

This ultrasound lets us see more deeply into your pelvis. It can also give us more information about your fetus (baby). An ultrasound probe goes into your vagina during this test. We put a clean, disposable cover on the probe before it’s used. For this type of ultrasound, you may insert the probe yourself.

How to prepare:

  • Eat and drink normally.
  • Don’t go to the washroom for 2 hours before your ultrasound.

Transrectal:

This ultrasound lets us see your prostate gland, rectum and the area around it. An ultrasound probe goes into your rectum during this test. We put a clean, disposable cover on the probe before it’s used.

How to prepare:

  • You may need to use a rectal fleet enema before your ultrasound. This will clean your rectum.
  • If you need to use one, you can buy one at a pharmacy. You may need to take it at home or bring it with you to your appointment. Your Urologist or family doctor  will tell you what to do.

Thyroid:

This ultrasound lets us see your thyroid. This is a gland in your neck area. No special preparation is required.

Breast:

This ultrasound lets us see the tissues inside your breasts. You don’t have to do anything to prepare for this ultrasound.

Scrotal:

This ultrasound lets us see your testicles and other tissues inside your scrotum. You don’t have to do anything to prepare for this ultrasound.

Carotid, jugular, vertebral:

This ultrasound lets us see the main blood vessels in your neck. You don’t have to do anything to prepare for this ultrasound.