What is an ultrasound scan?

Ultrasound is a fast, safe test involving the use of sound waves. The ultrasound probe directs pulses of high frequency sound waves in to the body. The sound waves are reflected off the internal organs and structures in the body. The reflected ultrasound waves are detected by the transducer and used to create an image of the body. Ultrasound pictures are captured in real time and are constantly updating so that you can see movement.

Is ultrasound safe?

Yes, ultrasound is a very safe method of imaging that does not involve any radiation exposure, hence its routine use for antenatal scans during pregnancy.

Who will perform the scan?

Your private ultrasound scan will be performed by one of the reporting radiologists in the Guildford Radiology Group. This is in contrast to routine practice in the US, Australia and much of Europe where scans are often performed by an ultrasound technician or sonographer.

What happens during the ultrasound scan?

Depending on the area being imaged, you may be asked to change into a gown. You will be asked to lie on a table, usually facing upwards. A clear gel will be applied to the area being examined, which eliminates air pockets between the transducer and the skin resulting in clearer images. Your radiologist will then gently sweep the probe over the area of interest until the relevant images are captured. The scan will typically take about 15 minutes. The radiologist will then review the images and send a report back to your referring clinician.

How should I prepare for the ultrasound?

There may be special preparation required for an ultrasound depending on the area of the body being imaged and you will receive full instructions beforehand. For certain abdominal ultrasounds you may be asked to fast for a few hours before the scan, or be required to have a full bladder.

What conditions can be diagnosed by an ultrasound scan?

Ultrasound is used to diagnose and monitor a wide variety of conditions:

  • Diagnosing tears in muscles and tendons, looking at fluid in joints and examining ligaments and soft tissues in many musculoskeletal conditions
  • Examining the kidney, bladder and prostate gland
  • Identifying tumours in organs such as the liver and pancreas
  • Diagnosing gallstones or appendicitis
  • Investigating breast lumps
  • Examining the uterus and ovaries (a specific probe may be placed into the vagina for clearer views of the pelvic structures)
  • Examination of choice for testicular or scrotal swellings
  • Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Doppler or Duplex scanning is a form of ultrasound used to examine arteries and veins and is particularly useful in cases of suspected deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Ultrasound is also useful to help guide therapeutic joint or tendon injections, diagnostic needle biopsies and fluid drainage.

Please note: the Guildford Radiology Group does not currently offer pregnancy scans.

How do I book a private ultrasound scan?

You need to ask your clinician for an ultrasound scan referral letter. Ultrasound is a simple test that your GP can refer you for directly to the Guildford Radiology Group. Based on the scan findings we will be able to direct onward referral to the appropriate specialist. Referring consultants or GPs can click here to download an ultrasound scan referral form. Once we have received the referral form, a member of our team will then call you to arrange a convenient appointment.