Will I feel pain?

Your comfort and relaxation is very important to both you and your care team. Abdominal ultrasound is generally a painless procedure. The water-based gel used in the procedure may feel cold and wet.

The pressure from the ultrasound wand might cause some discomfort if your abdomen is tender or painful. Take a few long, deep breaths to help yourself relax. Tell your doctor or technologist if any discomfort does not pass quickly.

What are the risks and potential complications of an abdominal ultrasound?  

There are no known risks or complications of abdominal ultrasound. Do not mistake an ultrasound for an X-ray, which uses radiation and does carry some risk. Ultrasound uses sound waves, not radiation, to produce images.

How do I prepare for my abdominal ultrasound?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before your abdominal ultrasound can help obtain the most accurate results. You can prepare for an abdominal ultrasound by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Refraining from eating or drinking before the procedure as directed by your doctor. This may include not eating or drinking certain (or any) foods or beverages for up to eight to 12 hours before the ultrasound. Some ultrasounds, such as a kidney ultrasound, require drinking extra water.

Questions to ask your doctor

Facing a medical procedure can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a brief doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before your ultrasound and between appointments. 

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointment. Questions can include:

  • Why do I need an abdominal ultrasound? 
  • How long will the procedure take? 
  • How should I take my medications? 
  • When will I get the results of my test?
  • What other tests or treatments might I need?
  • When should I follow up with you?
  • When and how should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my abdominal ultrasound?

Knowing what to expect after an abdominal ultrasound can help you get back to your everyday life as soon as possible.

How will I feel after the abdominal ultrasound?

Abdominal ultrasounds are painless, noninvasive imaging tests. You should not feel any aftereffects. Tell your doctor or care team if you have any pain or discomfort after the test.

Patients often eat and drink as usual and return to normal activities right after an outpatient ultrasound. Your doctor may give you specific instructions for diet and activity, depending on your condition. 

When can I go home?

You will likely go home right after an outpatient abdominal ultrasound and speak with your doctor about the results later.  The radiologist or doctor sometimes discusses the results right away, depending on your condition. 

When should I call my doctor?

It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after your abdominal ultrasound. Contact your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments. Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have new or unusual symptoms, such as increased or severe abdominal pain. This may be a sign that your condition is getting worse. You should also call you doctor if you have not heard the results of your ultrasound as expected.