Questions about Ultrasound

Are ultrasound exams harmful?

Ultrasound energy that produces the sound waves is not harmful when properly applied for the purpose of medical diagnostic imaging.  Sonographers ensure that they follow the ALARA principle (as low as reasonably acceptable) and limit exposure to what is required. Ultrasound does not use ionizing radiation such as is required for x-ray.

How do you prepare yourself for an ultrasound exam?

There are two barriers in producing a good quality exam –gas and bone. Contrary to what many think, fat is not the main barrier. Sound waves need a medium to travel. Air is not a medium and therefore blocks the path of the ultrasound beam. Liquid is a good conductor and that is why gel is applied to the body to allow for greater contact between the probe and skin. Bone is a sense solid medium, too dense for sound to penetrate. As a result, bone disorders cannot be diagnoses by ultrasound.

In order to produce good quality images, the patient is required to fast for at least 8 hours prior to the exam. This reduces the amount of gas content in the abdomen. This includes chewing gum. Drinking water with medication does not prevent the sonographer from attaining good pictures.

Why do I have to drink water before my ultrasound exam?

The type of ultrasound exam will determine whether you need to drink water for the test. If the exam is an abdominal ultrasound, the patient does not need to drink water. A pelvic ultrasound requires at least 40 Oz of water 1 hour prior to the appointment time. The full bladder serves as a window to see your pelvic organs (i.e. uterus, ovaries or prostate). Without a full bladder it is difficult to see them.

Why do I have to fast for my ultrasound?

An abdominal ultrasound requires that you fast for at least 8 hours prior to your scheduled appointment. This reduces the amount of gas in your abdomen (which obstructs the abdominal organs). Eating triggers the digestive system to take effect. This causes the gallbladder to contract, preventing the sonographer to visualize abnormalities such as gallstones.

When will I get the results of my ultrasound?

If you are seeing your doctor immediately after your ultrasound appointment, a verbal report will be called or faxed to your Doctor. If you are not seeing your doctor after the ultrasound test, a final report will be faxed to your doctor with 24-48 hours.

What is a Medical Diagnostic Sonographer?

All of our sonographers are certified under the American Registry of Diagnostic medical Sonographers (ARDMS) and/or the Canadian Association of Registered Diagnostic Ultrasound Professionals (CARDUP).  This means they have:

  • Education in ultrasound and patient skills, including both theory and clinical instruction.
  • A passing grade on ARDMS/CARDUP rigorous examination, which evaluates the intensive knowledge base required to practice sonography.
  • Stay on the cutting edge in both ultrasound technology and patient care skills through ARDMS/CARDUP required continuing medical education program.
  • Practice within the guidelines set by the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR), Canadian Society of Medical Diagnostic Sonographers (CSDMS) and the Ontario Society of Medical Diagnostic Sonographers (OSDMS).

Sonographers are trained by one of the following:

  • 3 year total program that requires the completion allied health education program (eg. Nursing, radiology, nuclear medicine) prior to one year of additional specialized ultrasound training in medical sonography.
  • Bachelor’s degree in medical radiation sciences.
  • Physician (generally a foreign trained physician) with an additional 1 year of tull-time theoretical and clinical ultrasound training.

Will the sonographer discuss the results?

Sonographers are not permitted to discuss the results with the patient. The results of the examination will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will discuss the results with you.

Who can order an X-ray or an Ultrasound?

A Physician, Registered Nurse in the Extended Class, Dentist, Chiropractor, Designated Chiropodist or an Osteopath can order an x-ray or an ultrasound.

A Registered Nurse may complete an x-ray/ultrasound requisition upon implementing a medical directive. The RN completes the requisition and includes his/her signature, the name of the physician responsible for the care of the patient and reference to the specific medical directive.


Text id (home_locations) does not exist

AdvantAGE Ontario

 Ontario Association of Radiology Managers - OARM

Ontario Association of Medical Radiation Sciences - OAMRS

College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario - CMRTO

Independent Diagnostic CLinics Association - IDCA