Ultrasound scans are used to study a person’s internal body structures. The ultrasound machine sends out high-frequency sound waves and records the reflected sound or echoes to create an image. Ultrasound is commonly used to study the developing foetus, abdominal and pelvic organs, muscles and joints, the heart and blood vessels.
It is a safe, painless and radiation free examination that has been used widely in medicine for well over half a century.
Ultrasound examinations at Fraser Coast Radiology are performed by highly qualified and accredited Sonographers.
How should I prepare?
General ultrasounds, like ultrasounds of the abdomen, pelvis and renal tracts, often require preparation that needs to be completed at home before you arrive for your appointment. If your ultrasound examination requires specific preparation, we will let you know when you make your appointment.
Musculoskeletal and routine vascular ultrasounds, like ultrasounds of the shoulders, hips, carotid arteries and venous Doppler assessments for DVT, rarely require preparation but still require appointments. It may be possible to book for same day service.
Please bring any previous ultrasound or X-ray images that are relevant to your examination. Your radiologist may use these for comparison.
Please arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment so that any paperwork can be completed.
How long does an ultrasound take?
Most ultrasound procedures take between 20 and 30 minutes, though some may take longer. Obstetric ultrasounds can sometimes take longer than expected ( up to 1 hour ) if the baby’s position makes it harder for the technician to gain a clear image. They will also take longer if there’s more than one baby to examine.
Complex vascular studies will generally take 45 minutes to 1 hour (up to twice that time for bilateral studies). These examinations can be quite physical for the sonographer and tiring for you. For this reason we may offer appointments over two days when bilateral studies are requested by your doctor.
What can I expect during the ultrasound?
Your sonographer may ask you to change into a gown, depending on the part of your body being examined.
The sonographer will apply a water-based gel on your skin where needed. The gel helps the soundwaves travel to and from the transducer, and ensures that it moves comfortably over your skin.
The sonographer will move the transducer around on your body, seeking the best possible images.
Ultrasounds are generally pain-free and usually quite gentle. Sometimes the sonographer may need to push quite firmly on the transducer to get a clearer image. This might be a little uncomfortable for a short period of time but shouldn’t hurt.
What will it cost?
If you have a current Medicare card and referral form from your health practitioner, you may be eligible to have the ultrasound bulk-billed with no direct cost to you. Depending on the type of ultrasound, there may be an out-of-pocket expense. If this is the case, we will let you know when you book your appointment.
When will I get the results?
We will prepare a report for your doctor or health practitioner and send it electronically within 24 to 36 hours. We will endeavour to make urgent test results available as soon as possible.
You should not make an appointment with your referring doctor to receive and talk about your test results without first checking when they will be available.
Ultrasound Scans for Obstetrics and Pregnancy
Ultrasound scans use sound waves to create a picture of your baby in your womb. The picture will be displayed on a screen that you will be able to see. At Fraser Coast Radiology the scans will be performed by one of our trained sonographers. These scans are painless and there are no risks to you or your baby.
When should I have an ultrasound during pregnancy?
You should have an ultrasound any time your referring doctor or health care professional deems it necessary. However, most doctors refer women for three routine ultrasounds during their pregnancy.
The first scan, usually completed during the first trimester of pregnancy, is a dating scan.
The second scan is usually performed between 11 and 13 weeks of pregnancy.
The third scan is the morphology scan, completed between 18 and 21 weeks of pregnancy.
What is a dating ultrasound?
A dating ultrasound or dating scan is usually done in the first trimester. At this time, the embryo (or foetus) can be measured to determine its age and the expected due date with reasonable accuracy. Generally, dating scans are done after six weeks of pregnancy, when the embryo can be seen in more detail.
This scan is important to ensure the baby is growing in the right location (intra-uterine) and not developing outside of the uterus (an ectopic pregnancy). This scan also assesses your ovaries and uterus for any pathologies that may affect the growing baby.
During the early weeks of pregnancy, it can be difficult for the sonographer to view the embryo using the transducer across the abdomen. If this is the case, the ultrasound may need to be performed by inserting a transducer into the vagina (a transvaginal ultrasound). This procedure will be explained in detail at the time of your ultrasound should it be recommended.
What is a nuchal translucency ultrasound?
A nuchal translucency ultrasound, sometimes referred to as NTS, is completed toward the end of the first trimester. It is a non-invasive assessment used to indicate whether your baby has a low or high risk of certain chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome, Edwards Syndrome or Patau Syndrome. This is a screening test and provides an early indicator to your referring doctor. The assessment consists of a maternal blood test and specific measurements of the baby. The information from these tests is combined to calculate a risk factor.
This ultrasound is performed between 12 weeks and 13 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy. A small fluid-filled space beneath the skin at the back of the baby’s neck known as the Nuchal Translucency is measured. The scan will also accurately date the pregnancy. The wellbeing of the baby is assessed during this scan and it may be possible to detect some physical abnormalities.
What is a morphology ultrasound?
A morphology ultrasound is completed between 18 and 21 weeks of pregnancy to examine the baby and placenta in detail.
This scan is a medical examination to assess the baby for structural abnormalities. It will look at the baby’s spine, head, heart and other organs to determine if they appear normal. While this is a very detailed scan, it does have its limitations and not all anomalies are detected on ultrasound.
Please let your sonographer know at the beginning of your appointment if you would like to know the sex of your baby as you will be required to sign a “Non-Medical Obstetric Imaging Disclaimer”.
A Doppler ultrasound is a non-invasive test that can be used to estimate the amount and speed of blood flow through your blood vessels by bouncing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off circulating red blood cells. A regular ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images, but can’t show blood flow.
A Doppler ultrasound may help diagnose many conditions, including:
- Blood clots
- Poorly functioning valves in your leg veins, which can cause varicose veins or swelling in your legs (venous insufficiency)
- Heart valve defects and congenital heart disease
- Decreased blood circulation into your legs (peripheral artery disease)
- Bulging arteries (aneurysms)
- Narrowing of an artery, such as in your neck (carotid artery stenosis)
- A blocked artery (arterial occlusion)