Ultrasound Services at NARH
Scheduling Office: (413) 664-5405 (Mon-Fri 8 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.)
Ultrasound (sonography) is an examination that obtains images of body organs through the use of sound waves. No radiation is involved, which makes it safe for use during pregnancy.
There are several types of ultrasounds and preparation will depend on what type you are having.
Abdominal sonography for the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or aorta requires complete fasting from midnight of the night before the exam.
Pelvic or obstetrical sonography requires an uncomfortably full bladder. You will need to drink three or four 12-ounce glasses of water one hour before your exam and should not empty your bladder until after the exam.
Renal sonography for the kidney requires that you drink several glasses of water one hour before your exam, but you do not need to keep your bladder full.
Breast ultrasound may be used when a questionable or suspicious area appears on a mammogram and further testing is required. It is also commonly used after a mammogram for women who have breast implants or “dense” breasts. A breast ultrasound does not involve uncomfortable compression of the breast tissue. It is performed with the patient lying on her back, with one hand behind her head. Before the exam a clear, water-soluble gel is applied to the breast. This gel helps the sound waves travel from the ultrasound machine through the skin, down to the tissues that are being studied. The technologist moves a hand held wand (transducer) over the skin’s surface and this sends out short pulses of sound waves that travel into the body. The echoes of these sound waves are reflected in differing degrees from the various tissue surfaces of the body. The resulting sound-wave pattern is displayed on the monitor of the ultrasound machine.
Other ultrasound tests, including vascular, cardiac, thyroid, transvaginal and carotid artery, need no special preparation.
In all cases, the technologist will explain the exam to you and answer any questions you may have. During the exam you will be positioned on a stretcher and gel will be applied to the area to be examined. A small probe, called a transducer, will be passed over the surface of your skin from the transducer. You may feel a light pressure on your skin. You may be asked to turn on your side or hold your breath as the technician watches the images on the screen. Films will be taken and checked with the radiologist. The radiologist may return to the exam room and perform a short exam.
When your exam is complete and the technologist and radiologist are satisfied with the images, the gel will be wiped off your skin and you will be allowed to leave. The results of your test will be forwarded to your physician.
Pelvic ultrasound usually involves the use of a vaginal transducer as well, to produce the most accurate images for diagnosis. You will be allowed to empty your bladder for this test. You will be asked to insert a probe into your vagina, that will be positioned by the technician to obtain more detailed images of your pelvic organs.
The abdominal, renal and obstetrical ultrasound tests take 45 to 60 minutes; the breast and thyroid tests take less time. Carotid artery, vascular and pelvic/ transvaginal tests may take 60 to 70 minutes.
NARH’s ultrasound program is accredited by the American College of Radiology.