Diagnostic Ultrasound of the Abdomen
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
An ultrasound uses sound waves to create pictures of the inside of the body. This type of ultrasound takes pictures of the inside of the belly.
Reasons for Test
This test may be done to:
There are no known risks from this test.
What to Expect
Prior to test
The care team will meet with you to talk about:
Description of the Test
You will be positioned on a table. A gel will be placed over the belly. A hand-held wand is pushed against the skin. The wand sends sound waves into your body. The waves bounce off internal organs and echo back to the wand. The computer changes the echoes into images on a screen. The images are examined by your doctor. A photograph of them may be taken.
You may be asked to change positions or hold your breath during the exam. You may feel some discomfort if you have a full bladder during the test.
The gel will be cleaned off your belly.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Most people do not have any problems after this test. You will be able to go back to normal activities.
The images will be sent to a doctor who specializes in reading them. Your doctor will share the results with you.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Association for Medical Ultrasound
Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America
Canadian Association of Radiologists
Canadian Radiation Protection Association
ACR-SPR-SRU practice parameter for performing and interpreting diagnostic ultrasound examinations. American College of Radiology website. Available at: https://www.acr.org/-/media/ACR/Files/Practice-Parameters/us-perf-interpret.pdf. Accessed September 15, 2020.
General ultrasound. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=genus. Accessed September 15, 2020.
Ultrasound—abdomen. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at:
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Accessed September 15, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN
Last Updated: 3/19/2021