What is an abdominal or pelvic ultrasound?

An ultrasound may be performed to look at many of the organs in the abdomen such as the stomach, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, bladder, or spleen. A pelvic ultrasound is able to evaluate the uterus and ovaries (in girls). Ultrasound is not able to evaluate the cellular function of the organs, but it is excellent or evaluating the presence, absence or location of organs, the structural formation of the organ, and other anatomical abnormalities.

How does the ultrasound work?

Ultrasound sends sound waves into the body using a transducer, a hand-held device that sends and receives sound waves. For the exam, the sonographer will apply warm gel to your child’s abdomen and place the transducer against his/her skin to take pictures. When the sound waves reflect back to the transducer from inside the body, an image is created on the screen. Ultrasound does NOT use radiation.

How should I/my child prepare?

  • Prep for an Abdominal Ultrasound:

Infant-Preschooler (birth-age 5): No food or drink for at least 3 hours

Child-Youth (age 5- 12): No food or drink for 4-6 hours

Teenager-Adult (age 13-21): No food or drink for 8 hours

  • Prep for a pelvic ultrasound (a full bladder is necessary for an optimal exam):

Infant-Preschooler (birth-age 5): No prep

Child-Youth (age 5-12): Drink water/juice prior to exam and try not to empty bladder

Teenager-Adult (age 13-21): Drink 3 cups of water prior to exam and do not empty bladder.

Other ways to prepare for the exam:

  • Your child may need to remove some of his/her clothing, so it may help to have something easy to take off.
  • If your child wears diapers, you may need extra diapers, as sometimes the gel gets on the diaper.

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