What to Wear to an Abdominal Ultrasound

In medical diagnostic procedures called abdominal ultrasounds, sound waves are used to create images of the internal organs in the abdomen region. In most cases, the patient is unaffected by the treatment, there are no unique hazards, and it is not uncomfortable. In a doctor’s office or an outpatient surgery facility, radiologists do abdominal ultrasound procedures. Patients will typically be requested to undress completely, starting at the waist, for abdominal ultrasound operations. If your bladder is already full, kindly refrain from drinking anything before your abdominal ultrasound. Be sure to talk to your radiologist about any worries you may have. Have you ever had an abdominal ultrasound before? Do you know what to avoid doing or how to be ready for one? When was the last time you took a peek inside a machine? It may be somewhat of an interesting experience.

What to Wear to an Abdominal Ultrasound

The following are some things to consider when preparing for an abdominal ultrasound:

Don’t eat for at least four hours prior to your appointment time. If you have had any recent abdominal surgery or have a history of abdominal surgery, it’s best that you not eat anything at all on the day of your appointment.

Wear loose-fitting clothes on the day of your appointment. You’ll be asked to wear a gown during the procedure, but it’s best if you can avoid wearing tight clothing beforehand.

How to get an abdominal ultrasound

If you have private health insurance, check with your provider about whether they cover ultrasounds performed outside of hospitals and clinics. Some insurers require that their members be referred by a primary care provider before they will cover any imaging services performed by independent medical practitioners (IMPs). If you don’t have private health insurance or if your insurer won’t cover this type of service, call around and see what prices are offered by different providers in your area.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a gastrointestinal condition, your doctor may order an abdominal ultrasound. This test is used to look for abnormalities in the liver, pancreas, spleen and other organs in the abdominal cavity.

In many cases, an abdominal ultrasound is done with no preparation. However, there are some things that you can do to make the scan more comfortable and effective.

What to Do Before an Abdominal Ultrasound

Abdominal ultrasounds can be done on either an empty or full stomach. If your doctor recommends eating beforehand, you should eat a low-fat meal at least two hours before having the test done.

What Not to Do Before an Abdominal Ultrasound

Don’t eat any dairy products or food with caffeine within 30 minutes of having an abdominal ultrasound. These foods may cause gas bubbles in your stomach that interfere with the results of your test.

Don’t smoke or drink alcohol because these substances may affect blood flow through your veins, making it more difficult for technicians to find a good vein for inserting an intravenous line (IV).

What to Wear

Dress in loose-fitting clothes that don’t constrict your waist, arms or legs. You don’t need to wear anything special, but avoid tight clothing because it can interfere with the ultrasound image.

What Not to Do Before an Abdominal Ultrasound

Don’t eat or drink for four hours before the exam.

Don’t take any laxatives, enemas or stool softeners in the 24 hours before your appointment. These can affect the results of some abdominal ultrasounds, especially if they are done using air instead of water as the fluid for the procedure (air-contrast CT).

What to Do to Prepare for an Abdominal Ultrasound

You may be asked not to take any medications for two days before the exam. If you have heart disease or other medical conditions that could interfere with your ultrasound results, let your doctor know about them beforehand so he can consider any special preparation necessary before the procedure.

You may be wondering what to wear for an abdominal ultrasound. Most patients dress casually for this exam, but there are some things to keep in mind.

Abdominal ultrasounds are usually performed by radiologists and a few primary care physicians, who have the training to perform these types of tests. The doctor will explain the procedure in more detail during your appointment, but here are some tips on what not to do before an abdominal ultrasound:

Don’t eat or drink anything for eight hours prior to the test — including water — so that your results will be accurate.

Don’t wear jewelry or metal clothing, as these may interfere with the ultrasound image. You can remove any metal objects from your pockets and remove watches or other jewelry before entering the room where you’ll have your exam.

Be sure not to wear a belt or tight-fitting pants; they might make it difficult for the doctor to obtain good images during your scan. Instead, wear loose-fitting clothing without zippers or buttons so that it’s easy for you and the doctor to move around freely without having to worry about any restrictions on movement caused by tight-fitting clothes or zipping and unzipping closures while doing the exam.

The most important thing to remember about an abdominal ultrasound is that it’s not invasive. You will be lying down and completely covered with a sheet. The technician will put a lubricant on your abdomen, which feels similar to jelly. They will then slide the ultrasound probe over your abdomen, moving it up and down just like a doctor would do during an exam.

The technician may ask you to hold still or breathe deeply for brief periods of time, but this is normal. If you have any questions or concerns during the procedure, please feel free to ask them!

What to wear to an ultrasound - Buy and Slay

An abdominal ultrasound is a safe, painless test that uses sound waves to produce images of the organs and structures in your abdomen.

An abdominal ultrasound may be used to diagnose a number of conditions, including:

Kidney stones


Liver or gallbladder disease

Cancers (including ovarian, pancreatic and colon)


There are certain things you can do before an abdominal ultrasound to make sure the procedure goes well. You should not eat or drink anything for four hours before your appointment. This is because the doctor may need to use a small tube (catheter) to inject dye into your veins, and this can cause vomiting if you have recently eaten or drunk anything.

You should also avoid taking any medications for 12 hours before your appointment. This is because some drugs can interfere with the results of the test. The doctor will inform you if there are any exceptions to these rules.

How to Get an Abdominal Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are often done in places called diagnostic imaging centers, which are part of hospitals or medical offices. Most diagnostic imaging centers have staff members who can help patients get comfortable during their appointments and answer any questions they may have about their tests or procedures.

If you have insurance coverage for diagnostic tests, it’s a good idea to call your insurance company before receiving an abdominal ultrasound so that they know what kind of test you’re having done and how much it will cost them (or not). This way they’ll know whether they need to pay out of pocket before they authorize your procedure

Abdominal ultrasound is a noninvasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the organs in your abdomen. It can help your doctor detect abnormalities and monitor ongoing conditions.

Abdominal ultrasound is commonly used to diagnose:

Pregnancy complications like ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo implants outside the uterus) and miscarriage

Infections such as appendicitis, urinary tract infections, vaginal infections and diverticulitis

Liver and gallbladder disease

Kidney disease

Bowel diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Crohn’s disease

What not to do before an abdominal ultrasound

Avoid eating and drinking for at least two hours before your appointment.

How to Prepare for an Ultrasound

Don’t wear jewelry that could interfere with the ultrasound probe, such as wristwatches, necklaces or body piercings.

What to do to prepare for an abdominal ultrasound

Arrive early for your appointment. The technician will ask you to remove all clothing except your underwear, and then put on a gown that opens in the front. You’ll be asked to lie down on a table so the technician can perform the test. If you’re having an abdominal ultrasound because of a pregnancy complication, such as miscarriage or placenta previa, you may need to sign a consent form before undergoing the exam. Be sure to ask your doctor if this applies to you.

Before you have an abdominal ultrasound, make sure that you:

Do not eat or drink anything for at least six hours before the test.

Do not take any antacids or liquid medications that contain iron within two hours of your test.

Do not take a laxative within 24 hours of your test.

Do not wear any type of clothing that has metal snaps or buttons; remove any jewelry and dental work.

Take all prescribed medications as directed by your doctor.

Abdominal Ultrasound

Ultrasound imaging of the abdomen uses sound waves to produce pictures of the structures within the upper abdomen. It is used to help diagnose pain or distention (enlargement) and evaluate the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas, spleen and abdominal aorta. Ultrasound is safe, noninvasive and does not use ionizing radiation.

This procedure requires little to no special preparation. Your doctor will instruct you on how to prepare, including whether you should refrain from eating or drinking beforehand. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown.

What is an abdominal ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. It is safe and painless. It produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound imaging is also called sonography. It uses a small probe called a transducer and gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves travel from the probe through the gel into the body. The probe collects the sounds that bounce back. A computer uses those sound waves to create an image. Ultrasound exams do not use radiation (x-rays). Because ultrasound captures images in real-time, it can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs. The images can also show blood flowing through blood vessels.

An abdominal ultrasound produces a picture of the organs and other structures in the upper abdomen.

A Doppler ultrasound study may be part of an abdominal ultrasound examination.

Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates movement of materials in the body. It allows the doctor to see and evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins in the body.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Abdominal ultrasound imaging is performed to evaluate the:

  • kidneys
  • liver
  • gallbladder
  • bile ducts
  • pancreas
  • spleen
  • abdominal aorta and other blood vessels of the abdomen

Ultrasound is used to help diagnose a variety of conditions, such as:

  • abdominal pain or distention (enlargement)
  • abnormal liver function
  • enlarged abdominal organ
  • kidney stones
  • gallstones
  • an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)

Additionally, ultrasound may be used to provide guidance for biopsies.

Doppler ultrasound helps the doctor to see and evaluate:

  • blockages to blood flow (such as clots)
  • narrowing of vessels
  • tumors and congenital vascular malformations
  • reduced or absent blood flow to various organs, such as the testes or ovary
  • increased blood flow, which may be a sign of infection

How should I prepare?

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined.

You may need to change into a gown for the procedure.

Preparations depend on the type of ultrasound you are having.

  • For a study of the liver, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas, you may be asked to eat a fat-free meal on the evening before the test and then to avoid eating for eight to 12 hours before the test.
  • For ultrasound of the kidneys, you may be asked to drink four to six glasses of liquid about an hour before the test to fill your bladder. You may be asked to avoid eating for eight to 12 hours before the test to avoid gas buildup in the intestines.
  • For ultrasound of the aorta, you may need to avoid eating for eight to 12 hours before the test.

What does the equipment look like

Ultrasound machines consist of a computer console, video monitor and an attached transducer. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone. Some exams may use different transducers (with different capabilities) during a single exam. The transducer sends out inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body and listens for the returning echoes. The same principles apply to sonar used by boats and submarines.

The technologist applies a small amount of gel to the area under examination and places the transducer there. The gel allows sound waves to travel back and forth between the transducer and the area under examination. The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a video monitor. The computer creates the image based on the loudness (amplitude), pitch (frequency), and time it takes for the ultrasound signal to return to the transducer. It also considers what type of body structure and/or tissue the sound is traveling through.

How does the procedure work?

Ultrasound imaging uses the same principles as the sonar that bats, ships, and fishermen use. When a sound wave strikes an object, it bounces back or echoes. By measuring these echo waves, it is possible to determine how far away the object is as well as its size, shape, and consistency. This includes whether the object is solid or filled with fluid.

Doctors use ultrasound to detect changes in the appearance of organs, tissues, and vessels and to detect abnormal masses, such as tumors.

In an ultrasound exam, a transducer both sends the sound waves and records the echoing (returning) waves. When the transducer is pressed against the skin, it sends small pulses of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce off internal organs, fluids and tissues, the sensitive receiver in the transducer records tiny changes in the sound’s pitch and direction. A computer instantly measures these signature waves and displays them as real-time pictures on a monitor. The technologist typically captures one or more frames of the moving pictures as still images. They may also save short video loops of the images.

Doppler ultrasound, a special ultrasound technique, measures the direction and speed of blood cells as they move through vessels. The movement of blood cells causes a change in pitch of the reflected sound waves (called the Doppler effect). A computer collects and processes the sounds and creates graphs or color pictures that represent the flow of blood through the blood vessels.

How is the procedure performed?

For most ultrasound exams, you will lie face-up on an exam table that can be tilted or moved. Patients may turn to either side to improve the quality of the images.

The radiologist (a doctor specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology exams) or sonographer will position you on the exam table. They will apply a water-based gel to the area of the body under examination. The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body. It also eliminates air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The sonographer places the transducer on the body and moves it back and forth over the area of interest until it captures the desired images.

There is usually no discomfort from pressure as they press the transducer against the area being examined. However, if the area is tender, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer.

Doctors perform Doppler sonography with the same transducer.

Once the imaging is complete, the technologist will wipe off the clear ultrasound gel from your skin. Any portions that remain will dry quickly. The ultrasound gel does not usually stain or discolor clothing.

What will I experience during and after the procedure?

Most ultrasound exams are painless, fast, and easily tolerated.

Abdominal ultrasound is usually completed within 30 minutes.

If the doctor performs a Doppler ultrasound exam, you may hear pulse-like sounds that change in pitch as they monitor and measure the blood flow.

When the exam is complete, the technologist may ask you to dress and wait while they review the ultrasound images.

After an ultrasound exam, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist, a doctor trained to supervise and interpret radiology exams, will analyze the images. The radiologist will send a signed report to the doctor who requested the exam. Your doctor will then share the results with you. In some cases, the radiologist may discuss results with you after the exam.

You may need a follow-up exam. If so, your doctor will explain why. Sometimes a follow-up exam further evaluates a potential issue with more views or a special imaging technique. It may also see if there has been any change in an issue over time. Follow-up exams are often the best way to see if treatment is working or if a problem needs attention.

What are the benefits vs. risks?


  • Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections).
  • Occasionally, an ultrasound exam may be temporarily uncomfortable, but it should not be painful.
  • Ultrasound is widely available, easy to use, and less expensive than most other imaging methods.
  • Ultrasound imaging is extremely safe and does not use radiation.
  • Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.
  • Ultrasound provides real-time imaging. This makes it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and fluid aspiration.


  • Standard diagnostic ultrasound has no known harmful effects on humans.

What are the limitations of abdominal ultrasound?

Ultrasound waves are disrupted by air or gas. Therefore, ultrasound is not an ideal imaging technique for the air-filled bowel or organs obscured by the bowel. Ultrasound is not as useful for imaging air-filled lungs, but it may be used to detect fluid around or within the lungs. Similarly, ultrasound cannot penetrate bone, but may be used for imaging bone fractures or for infection surrounding a bone.

Large patients are more difficult to image by ultrasound because greater amounts of tissue weaken the sound waves as they pass deeper into the body and need to return to the transducer for analysis.

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