Preparing for your ultrasound scan

You should allow at least 1 hour in the ultrasound department.

You'll need to remove your clothes covering the area being examined. You might want to wear something that is easy to remove.

Your appointment letter will have any instructions about what you need to do before your scan.

This could involve not eating for a short time before your scan, or drinking water.

You should take all your medicines as normal.

Students or trainees might be there for your scan. If you do not want them there, please ask. It will not affect your care.

You can ask the sonographer or doctor any questions at any time before, during or after your scan.

If you want to bring someone with you, please mention this at reception.

During your ultrasound scan

Ultrasound scans can take 10 to 30 minutes. It depends on what part of your body is being scanned, and how much information we need to get.

If a second opinion is needed, this can increase the time it takes.

We'll ask you to remove your clothes covering the area being examined.

We'll ask you to lie on an examination couch.

Some clear water-based gel will be put onto the area of your skin being scanned.

The sonographer or doctor will slowly move a small, handheld probe over the area. They will view the images it produces on a screen.

The lights in the room will be dimmed so that the pictures can be seen more clearly.

Records of the images will be made so that they can be viewed later.

You cannot feel ultrasound. However, it is important we get a clear image. We might need to press down on the probe, and this might feel uncomfortable. If you are finding it difficult, please tell the sonographer or doctor.

After your ultrasound scan

Once the scan has finished, the gel is wiped off and you can get dressed.

In most cases, you can leave the hospital straight away or go back to the ward if you are staying in hospital.

Results of your ultrasound scan

The results will be sent to the doctor who referred you for the scan.

If that doctor is a consultant at Guy's and St Thomas', the results will normally arrive within 1 working day.

If it was your GP or a consultant at another hospital, the results will normally arrive within 1 week. Please be advised some reports may take longer than 1 week.

If you are staying in hospital, the results will be given to the doctors looking after you on the ward.

Antenatal reports will be placed in your maternity notes at the end of the ultrasound scan.

Last updated: November 2023

Contact us

For more information, please contact us.

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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