This is a safe examination and it is often used as a first line of investigation for many different clinical problems.

 How Should I prepare for the scan?

 Upper abdominal examinations:  Patients are asked to have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to the appointment time.  Diabetic patients will normally be given early appointments, but can contact the department if they are concerned.

 Renal and pelvic examinations:  Patients are required to have a full bladder for this examination.  The patient is asked to drink 1.5 pints of water, to be finished one hour prior to the appointment time.  The preparation for children varies slightly and requires that the child is encouraged to drink plenty, in order to try and fill their bladder.  Fizzy drinks must be avoided.

 Upper abdominal and pelvic examinations:  Patients are asked to have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to the appointment time.  Patients are required to have a full bladder for this examination and are asked to drink 1.5 pints of water, to be finished one hour prior to the appointment time.

What Will Happen During The Scan?

Patients will be invited into the examination room unaccompanied, unless the patient is a child or if the patient is in need of support.  Once in the examination room, patients will be asked to lie on a couch and a clear gel will be applied to the skin surface of the area being examined.  An ultrasound probe will be run over this area in order to build up a picture on the monitor.

Patients will be asked to lie in certain positions so that a complete examination is possible.  Patients may be asked to follow specific breathing instructions, this will be explained during the scan.

Ultrasound Guided Injections / Aspirations

Ultrasound Guided Steroid Injection – Steroid or cortisone is a very powerful anti-inflammatory medication.  By delivering a high dose into the affected body part through injection, the powerful anti-inflammatory effects of cortisone may help treat the patient’s pain.

Cortisone is given by injection using ultrasound guidance, to ensure that the medication is delivered precisely to the correct location.

As a general rule, 3 injections into the same body part are permitted over a 12 month period.  Injections more frequently than this are felt to place the injection site tissue at risk of softening/weakening.  If patients require more than 3 injections in a year, then the risk of the injection must be balanced against the benefits of pain relief.

In these circumstances, the patient should have a full discussion with the referring doctor.

It is very rare to bleed following a simple joint injection.  If patients have bleeding tendency or happen to be on anti-clotting or anti-platelet medication, there is a small risk of bleeding into soft tissues or joints.

If the patient is on anti-coagulation therapy, this may need to be stopped, further guidance can be obtained by contacting the department.

Biopsies / Drainages – These are mainly performed with the patients attending via a ward.  The patient is referred so that a sample of tissue can be obtained for histology, or a collection of fluid taken for histology or comfort/relief.  The procedure is performed by a Radiologist with ultrasound guidance.

Fine Needle Aspiration For Thyroid Nodules – This is usually performed as an out-patient by a Consultant Radiologist with ultrasound guidance. A sample of tissue is obtained from part of the thyroid for further examination.

If the patient is on anti-coagulation therapy, this may need to be stopped, further guidance can be obtained by contacting the department.

Following the procedure, patients will be allowed to leave the department provided they feel well enough to do so.

General Information

Pregnancy – Pregnant patients can safely have an ultrasound examination.  Scans to look at their baby are performed in the department sited close to the antenatal clinic.  Pregnant patients may be referred to the general department, for other clinical reasons.

When Will I Get My Results? – The results of the scan will be sent back to the doctor who referred.  If patients were referred by their GP they are advised to make an appointment after 10 days to discuss the results.  If patients were referred by one of the doctors in the hospital, the results will be normally be discussed with the patient at their next clinic appointment.