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What is ultrasound and how does it work?

Ultrasound is a safe and very effective way of seeing inside the body. It is performed to see many different parts of the body, including pregnancy. Ultrasound works like sonar does in the ocean. The sound waves travel the best through water (or fluid). Ultrasound uses a camera (called a transducer) placed on the woman’s lower abdomen with ultrasound gel on it to send sound waves through the body. The sound waves are then are transmitted back to the transducer. A computer then uses those sound waves to create a the image. Ultrasound is extremely safe for the woman and fetus because there is no radiation involved (like an x-ray). Ultrasound has been used for decades and there are no known harmful effects. Since the images are seen in what is called “real time”, you can see what’s happening “live”.

How do I prepare for an ultrasound exam?

The preparation is quite simple but may be a bit challenging. Since the uterus is located under the bladder, the fuller the bladder is the better the image. The woman is asked to drink 32 oz of water about 45 min before the exam and hold her bladder. It sounds difficult but is very attainable! In an early pregnancy (less than about 10 weeks) a vaginal ultrasound is usually done after the abdominal to get a clearer view and more accurate measurement of the fetus. It is almost always not painful, and the woman can empty her bladder before it is done! (PS: The woman can eat before the exam if she likes.)

Lisa Lanza, RMDS, Sonographer
First Choice Women’s Resource Centers
Jersey City, Montclair, Morristown, Newark and Plainfield, NJ

Call 973-538-0967 or text 973-532-2904 to schedule an appt.
Article information from Radiologyinfo.org

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