Kids Health Info

Ultrasound

  • An ultrasound scan uses sound waves (that the human ear cannot hear) to form images of the inside of the body. The examination is performed by a Sonographer (someone who is trained in ultrasound scanning) and varies in time depending on the region being scanned – usually about half an hour. There is no ionizing radiation (e.g. X-rays) used in Ultrasound.

    Why does my child need an ultrasound?

    Ultrasound examinations can be performed on many parts of the body and are performed for different reasons, for example to:

    • look at the shape or structure of parts of the body
    • check for any signs of disease
    • help plan follow-up treatment after a procedure
    • help with planning before an operation
    • for early detection, treatment, and management of diseases

    Preparing your child for their appointment  

    For some ideas on how to prepare your child for the procedure, and tips on distracting them and helping them stay calm during the procedure, see our fact sheet Reducing your child's discomfort during procedures

    It may be helpful to your child if the procedure is explained to them before they come in for their important. Explain that: 

    • the scans are painless
    • a parent or carer can stay with the child during the scan

    Most children can watch TV or a movie while having their scans, and you are welcome to bring in your child's favourite toy, electronic device or book to keep your child occupied and distracted during the scan. 

    Specialist staff from Child Life Therapy may also be of benefit for your child. The Child Life Therapist engages families in imaging-specific education and medical play, as well as providing distraction and support during procedures. Appointments for Child Life Therapist support can be made in advance via Medical Imaging or your referring doctor.

    What to expect with an ultrasound

    Before the ultrasound

    It is very important to make sure you follow the preparation instructions on your child’s appointment letter, even if you have had an ultrasound before. The preparation required differs depending on which part of the body is being examined. 

    If you have any questions about fasting, drinking fluids, or any other instructions please call RCH Medical Imaging on 03 9345 6780.

    During the ultrasound

    For all examinations, a family member or carer is encouraged to stay with your child to help them feel comfortable about the procedure and to help them to keep still. The scan is performed with your child lying on an examination bed and either on their back, side or stomach. Your child may need to remove some clothing depending on the area of the body that is being scanned.

    The Sonographer will place the ultrasound camera on the skin. Special ultrasound gel is used to help the camera slide across the skin. Many images are taken in different locations and positions.

    After the ultrasound

    A report will be prepared by the Radiologist and sent to the referring doctor. The report is often available within a few days but can be received earlier if required. If you have any questions about why your child needs an Ultrasound, or questions about the results of your scan, please speak to your doctor.

    Key points to remember

    • Ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging test that does not use any ionizing radiation
    • It is very important to follow your individual preparation instructions
    • A parent or carer is encouraged to stay with their child during the ultrasound
    • You can leave the department straight after an ultrasound

    For more information

    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Medical Imaging department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.

    Reviewed November 2018.

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au.

Kids Health Info app

The app will enable you to search and browse more than three hundred medical fact sheets and work offline.

Apple store Google play


Disclaimer
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.