Radiology & Imaging

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Radiology & Imaging


Ultrasound, also called sonography, is a non-invasive, safe, painless diagnostic procedure that emits high-frequency sound waves off parts of the body and captures the images from the reflection. There is no injection or radiation exposure associated with ultrasound.

HealthEast performs many different types of ultrasound exams. Ultrasound is able to capture moving images of pelvic and abdominal function (including gallstones), breast abnormalities, the female and male reproductive system, the kidney and thyroid systems, as well as the developing fetus, among other applications. When enhanced with the spectral Doppler technique, ultrasound can also capture blood moving within a vessel.

How to prepare for an ultrasound

  • Preparation for your ultrasound will depend on the type of exam; you will be given the preparation instructions when your exam is scheduled.
  • Some patients might be instructed not to eat or drink anything for six to eight hours before a test.
  • Some tests require patients to drink a large quantity of water and avoid urinating until after the exam.
  • Please bring previous imaging study results (x-ray, MRI, CT, ultrasound) such as reports, films or CD-roms if available.
  • Please arrive 30 minutes early to verify your registration.

What to expect

During the exam

  • You will lie on a cushioned table and gel will be applied to your skin. The gel acts as a conductor.
  • A transducer, a hand-held device that sends and receives ultrasound signals, is moved over the area of your body being imaged.
  • Images are captured on a television-like monitor and transferred to film for a radiologist to review and interpret.
  • Depending on the type of exam, it can take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes.

After the exam

  • A radiologist who specializes in a specific area of the body will review your images (e.g., a body radiologist will review an ultrasound of your abdomen).
  • The radiologist prepares a diagnostic report to share with your doctor.
  • Your doctor will consider this information in context of your overall care, and talk with you about the results.

Get more information and read preparation instructions:

Contact Radiology & Imaging

Call 651-232-5500 to make a radiology appointment at St. John's Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital or Woodwinds Health Campus. This appointment line is open between 7 am and 6 pm.

Frequently asked questions about ultrasound


Q: If there are any ulcers in my stomach, can you see them?

A: No. Due to the intestinal gas (air) in the stomach and intestines, it's hard to see these areas with ultrasound.

Q: Why can’t I eat or drink anything before my abdomen ultrasound procedure?

A: When you eat, drink or even chew gum, you introduce air into the stomach and bowel. Sound waves do not penetrate air, making it harder to see target organs.

Q: Why do I need to have a full bladder for a pelvic ultrasound procedure?

A: Sound waves travel more easily through liquids than through surrounding tissues and air. Consequently, a full bladder facilitates passage of sound waves through it, making the uterus and ovaries behind the bladder easier to see.

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