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Child and Adolescent Health Service

Services A – Z


Princess Margaret Hospital

Diagnostic Imaging

Image of Ultrasound Room - Click to Enlarge

What Is an Ultrasound?

How Should I Prepare My Child?

What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to show pictures of the inside of the body. It works like an echo and takes pictures by bouncing sound waves off parts inside the body. The pictures made by the sound waves are seen on a TV screen. The entire test is done from outside the body and does not hurt your child.

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What Do I Do Before the Test?

The preparation for the test depends on the part of the body being scanned.

Some ultrasounds do not require any special preparation. If pictures of your child’s abdomen are required you will receive instructions to fast your child for four hours before the test. If pictures of the kidneys or pelvis are required a full bladder is needed and clear fluids should be given (amount dependant on the age of the child). Carbonated (fizzy) drinks should not be given.

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How are the Pictures Taken?

The sonographer will explain the test to you and your child in the ultrasound room. The room is dimly lit and there is an ultrasound machine beside the table. Your child will need to lie down on the table and be very still. You will be able to sit down next to your child. The sonographer will sit down on the other side of the bed and put some warm gel on the part of the body being examined. A transducer (similar to a microphone) is placed in the gel and moved around the area. The sonographer may ask your child to hold his breath or move into a different position while the images are being taken. The gel will not hurt and is wiped off after the test.

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Who Looks at the Pictures?

A paediatric radiologist (a doctor specially trained in children’s imaging) looks at the pictures and sends a report to your child’s doctor.

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What Happens After the Test?

The sonographer will let you know when your child can leave. After the test your child can eat and drink normally, unless your child’s doctor has told you otherwise.

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When Do I get the Results?

The radiologist will review the pictures and send a report to your child’s doctor. If there is a serious problem that requires treatment your child’s doctor will be notified before you leave the department.

The results will be available at the next outpatient clinic appointment or with your GP depending on who referred you to the department.

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How Should I Prepare My Child?


Even though the test cannot be explained to your baby you can make them feel more secure if you:

  • bring along a special blanket, toy or dummy
  • talk to your child during the test
  • feed your baby after the test

Toddlers and Preschool Age

  • Explain the test to your child just beforehand as they may become anxious if told too far in advance.
  • On the day of the test tell your child they will be having some pictures taken and you will stay with them during the test.
  • Bring a favorite toy or book and a snack for afterwards.

School Age

  • Explain to your child in simple language that they are going to the hospital to have some pictures taken of their body and that you will stay with them during the test.
  • Bring along a snack for after the test if your child needs to fast beforehand.

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