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Where is Imaging Ultrasound

The Imaging Ultrasound Department is located in the Radiology Department on Level 3, Main Out-Patient block at St Peter’s Hospital and in the Radiology Department on the ground floor at Ashford Hospital.

Contact telephone number: 01932 723054 (X-ray appointments)


What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a high frequency sound that you cannot hear, but it can be emitted and detected by special scanners.

Ultrasound waves are directed at your body using a small handheld sensor called a transducer. This is moved over the surface of the skin and generates sound waves. When the sound waves hit an object they bounce back as an echo. A computer converts the reflected ultrasound echoes into an image.

Abdominal Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays). As ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.

Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.


What does an ultrasound scan involve?

You lie on a couch and an operator places the transducer (probe) on your skin over the part of your body to be examined. Lubricating jelly is put on your skin so that the transducer makes good contact with your body and helps to effectively transmit the high frequency sound waves into the body.

The scan is painless and takes about 15 - 20 minutes, depending on which parts of the body are being examined. A record of the areas examined will be stored as still pictures or as a video recording.


What does the ultrasound scanner look like?

Ultrasound scanners consist of a console containing a computer and electronics, a video display screen and a transducer that is used to scan the body and blood vessels. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone, attached to the scanner by a cord. The transducer sends out high frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes from the tissues in the body.

The principles are similar to sonar used by boats and submarines. The transducer is connected by a cable to the ultrasound machine and monitor. Pulses of ultrasound are sent from the transducer through the skin into your body. The ultrasound waves are then reflected ('bounced back') to the transducer from the various structures in the body and displayed as an image on the monitor.

The picture is constantly updated so the scan can show movement as well as structure. The operator moves the transducer around over the skin surface to get views from different angles.The image is created based on the amplitude (strength), frequency and time it takes for the sound signal to return from the patient to the transducer.


Who performs and interprets the results?

  • A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to interpret radiology examinations.
  • A sonographer, a radiographer specifically trained in ultrasound scanning and interpretation of the results.
  • In some cases the radiologist / sonographer may discuss results with you at the conclusion of your examination.


What should I do to prepare for the test?

  • Each examination has a different preparation. Please see attached list of examinations.
  • Continue to take your usual medication.
  • After the scan you can eat and drink as normal
  • You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam.
  • You will be given the option to wear a gown during the procedure should you wish.


When will I get my results?

Your referring doctor will receive the written ultrasound report within 7-10days.


What is an ultrasound test used for?

It is used in many situations. The way the ultrasound bounces back from different tissues can help to determine the size, shape and consistency of organs, structures and abnormalities. So, it can:

  • Help to diagnose problems of the liver, gallbladder (such as gallstones), pancreas, thyroid gland, lymph nodes, ovaries, testes, kidneys, abdominal hernias, bladder and breast. For example, it can help to determine if an abnormal lump in one of these organs is a solid lesion or a fluid-filled cyst.
  • Detect abnormal widening of blood vessels (aneurysms) or look for deep vein thrombosis (clots) in the upper and lower limbs.
  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound to look at tendons, all muscle groups, neuromas, ganglia and lumps & bumps.


Some specialist ultrasound techniques


What are the benefits vs. risks?


  • Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections) and is usually painless.
  • Ultrasound is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods.
  • Ultrasound imaging uses no ionizing radiation.
  • Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.
  • Ultrasound causes no health problems and may be repeated as often as is necessary.
  • Ultrasound provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and needle aspiration.



  • For standard diagnostic ultrasound there are no known harmful effects on humans.


What are the limitations of Abdominal Ultrasound Imaging?

Ultrasound waves are disrupted by air or gas; therefore ultrasound is not an ideal imaging technique for the bowel or organs obscured by the bowel. In most cases, barium exams, CT scanning, and MRI are the methods of choice in this setting.

Large patients are more difficult to image because tissue attenuates (weakens) the sound waves as they pass deeper into the body.


Ultrasound scans by type


Information Leaflet

Click to download

Ultrasound Scans

Ultrasound is very high frequency sound, inaudible to the human ear, which can be emitted and detected using an ultrasound machine.

Ultrasound can also be used by Physiotherapists for the treatment of soft tissue injuries but will not be described here.

Ultrasound is painless and harmless. It travels from a probe through the skin into the body and is reflected back when it reaches fluid, organs or bones inside. The echoes are detected by the same machine and a picture is generated which is immediately visible on a screen.


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