What are Ultrasound scans?

AdelaideMRI offers ultrasound examinations at each of our practices as a safe diagnostic imaging technique to produce detailed images of some parts of the body using high-frequency sound waves – much higher than human hearing can detect.

Ultrasound scanning was developed from the SONAR mapping used by submarines. The sound is produced by a small hand-held device known as an ultrasound probe (transducer), which is placed on the skin of the patient. Gel is put on the skin surface under the probe to help the sound waves enter the body. These waves are reflected by the internal structures of the body. The reflected sound waves are detected by the probe and used to generate an image that is displayed on the screen of the ultrasound machine.

What are Ultrasound scans used for?

Ultrasound can reveal information about a range of medical conditions including pregnancy, gallstones, and varicose veins. An ultrasound that shows blood flow is alternatively called a Doppler, Colour Flow Doppler or Duplex Scan.

Ultrasound scans cannot obtain images from parts of the body obscured by gas or bone. Imaging is best in the lower pelvis and upper abdomen, the musculo-skeletal system, the breasts (for some breast abnormalities), parts of the male reproductive system, kidneys and bladder, the thyroid, the gall bladder and pancreas, the uterus in pregnancy (for foetal development), and the blood vessel (vascular) system.

What are interventional Ultrasound procedures?

Interventional radiology involves the interpretation of images that reflect the body’s internal structures, diagnosing injury or disease, and then performing an interventional procedure as treatment. Your doctor may have referred you for an interventional ultrasound procedure such as a steroid injection, contrast injection, biopsy, or aspiration. The sonographer will explain the procedure to you. After receiving your consent, the radiologist will perform the interventional procedure. AdelaideMRI always applies strict sterile procedures at our practices to ensure infection control.

We often offer local anaesthesia along with our injections, but you may decline this.

Recognised complications of interventional ultrasound procedures may include bruising or infection after any needle puncture. Please consult your doctor if you notice any redness, heat, or pain at the injection site after the procedure.

What is a Pelvic Ultrasound?

A pelvic ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic scan used to assess organs and structures within the female pelvis. A pelvic ultrasound visualises the female pelvic organs and structures including the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

You may request for a female sonographer for this examination.

A pelvic ultrasound scan requires a full bladder. For some investigations, further scans may require a transducer placed in the vagina – called a transvaginal ultrasound. This method is employed when visualisation of the pelvic organs by the scan performed through the full bladder is incomplete. A transvaginal ultrasound can be superior to a pelvic scan conducted through the bladder. Ultrasound images are more detailed when the probe is closer to the area of examination.

It is your choice to have a transvaginal ultrasound. It will be performed only with your consent. The sonographer will explain the procedure to you. A sterilized probe with a protective sheath and sterile gel is inserted into the vagina, and then manipulated gently to assess the pelvic organs.

How should I prepare for an Ultrasound scan?

Please bring your doctor’s ultrasound scan request form, your Medicare card and any previous X-rays, scans, reports and films each time you visit us. You may be asked to either fast from food or to have a full bladder prior to your examination. While preparation varies with the type of ultrasound examination, most examinations do not require any preparation. Our friendly staff will advise you what preparation is required, such as fasting, when you make your appointment. You are welcome to ask questions regarding your examination. Please see below for rough preparation guidelines based on the target area of the scan.

  • Ultrasound Upper Abdomen: Do not eat, drink or smoke for six hours before your appointment.
  • Ultrasound of renal organs, pelvis, or in early pregnancy: As you require a full bladder for this scan, please drink one litre of water at least one hour before your appointment.

What happens during an Ultrasound scan?

A standard ultrasound examination takes approximately 30 minutes but may take up to one hour. Your name and date of birth will be checked prior to your examination. You are then escorted to our ultrasound room, which has low light to reduce glare on the ultrasound TV monitor. You will then be asked to lie on a bed or sit on a chair. The sonographer will explain the examination procedure to you before acquiring the necessary images.

During the examination, you will not be aware of the sound waves. You should feel no discomfort, only some pressure on the skin from the transducer. A sonographer specialises in acquiring the images which are interpreted and reported by the radiologist. The radiologist may enter the room and assess the images while you are there. You will sign a Medicare bulk bill form after the examination is complete.

Is Ultrasound scanning a safe process?

Yes. Ultrasound scans are entirely safe because they use sound waves or echoes to create an image rather than radiation. Although the body absorbs this sound energy as minute amounts of heat, the energy levels required for diagnostic imaging do not produce noticeable warming effects inside the body. There are no known harmful effects at the levels used, although excessive scanning of the growing foetus is not recommended. Studies have shown ultrasound to be a safe technique with no harmful side effects. It can be performed on a wide range of body parts.

How much does an Ultrasound scan cost?

We bulk bill all Medicare-eligible ultrasound scans as part of our commitment to providing affordable and accessible healthcare. Bulk billing means there is no gap payment and no unexpected out-of-pocket expense. Please check if your scan is Medicare-eligible when booking. The Medicare schedule has very specific guidelines about which examinations are eligible.

It is your choice where to have your ultrasound scan. Call us for an appointment with any referring doctor’s imaging request form.

Sometimes your doctor may require traditional large-format plastic images (‘hard films’). If so, let us know and we will print plastic images for you – a small charge of $20 applies for these copies.

Fees apply where an ultrasound scan is not Medicare-eligible. Please ask our reception staff when booking.

What happens to my Ultrasound scan results?

Your scan results are treated with strict confidentiality. Our radiologist or technician will talk to you before, during and after the examination and can explain the ultrasound images we produce, but may not be able to give you precise information about your condition prior to the finalisation of a written report. A second radiologist may review your scan images. AdelaideMRI will issue your final report within the next 48 hours and send the results to your referring doctor with instructions for digital access of the images. As the images are digital, they are stored on our computer system for future reference. You should always discuss the results with your doctor.