An ultrasound is a painless, noninvasive exam that uses sound waves to capture images of various body parts. The high-frequency sound waves bounce off of body tissues and are made into images by the ultrasound machine. Ultrasound imaging shows real-life movement of internal organs and blood flow. This allows specialists to diagnose problems within your child’s internal organs. An ultrasound does not involve any ionizing radiation.
Different types of ultrasounds may be used to diagnose different conditions. Ultrasounds are painless, safe and generally short procedures. The exam may take as little as 15 minutes or as long as an hour depending on the body part being imaged.
At Riley at IU Health, your child’s ultrasound results will be made available to the referring physician within 48 hours. Your child's doctor will then contact you with the results and discuss further options and treatments available for your child based on the ultrasound results.
What to Expect
What to Expect
During an ultrasound, your child will lie down and may also need to roll into different positions. The technologist will apply a warm, water-based gel to your child’s skin. He or she will then glide a handheld device called a transducer across the area being imaged.
The technologist may ask your child to hold his or her breath to help obtain clearer images. Although your child is expected to hold still, technologists are accustomed to handling children who may not cooperate.
The radiology team at Riley at IU Health encourages you or another caregiver to help by holding your child’s hand or talking to him or her. A favorite toy from home is welcome, and there are televisions in each exam room to help entertain your child during the exam.
Preparation for an ultrasound varies depending on which body part is being examined. Some exams may require food and drink restrictions, while others may require a full bladder. Follow the appropriate instructions for your child’s ultrasound procedure.
An abdominal ultrasound produces images of the abdomen, including the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Your child should not eat or drink anything before the exam. This is necessary to limit abdominal gas and to ensure adequate distention of the gallbladder.
Please follow the instructions appropriate for your child’s age:
- Under 2 years old. Your child cannot eat or drink anything for four hours before the exam.
- 3 to 8 years old. Your child cannot eat or drink anything for six hours before the exam.
- 9 years and older. Your child cannot eat or drink anything for eight hours before the exam.
Patients on continuous feeding need to stop feeding four hours before the exam.
To prepare for a pelvic ultrasound, your child needs to have a full bladder to make her uterus and ovaries more visible during the ultrasound. She should begin drinking 45 minutes before the exam and try not to urinate.
Follow these fluid intake instructions according to your child’s age:
- Under 2 years old. Your child should drink one bottle or one glass if possible.
- 2 to 6 years old. Your child should drink two glasses or 16 ounces if possible.
- 7 to 12 years old. Your child should drink three glasses or 24 ounces if possible.
- 13 years and older. Your child should drink four glasses or 32 ounces if possible.
Renal (Kidney) and Bladder Ultrasound
There are no specific instructions for this exam. However, the bladder cannot be visualized if it is empty. Encourage your child to drink without urinating before the exam.