Preparing for your Ultrasound

Ultrasound exams generally are covered by insurance plans, but you or your physician may be required to obtain authorization from or provide documentation of medical necessity to your insurance provider prior to your exam.

Please download and print Ultrasound Patient Preparation Instructions (PDF). You should call Fast Track Admissions prior to your exam date to pre-register. You may call up to 30 days in advance of your exam.

  • For exams scheduled at Emory University Hospital, call 404-686-5270 or 1-800-640-9293.
  • For exams scheduled at Emory University Hospital Midtown, call 404-686-1573.
  • Fast Track Admissions also may be required for exams scheduled at The Emory Clinic. Please call 404-778-XRAY or ask your scheduler at the time you make your appointment.

Leading up to your exam:

  • Some exams require no preparation. For other exams, we may ask you to restrict your eating and drinking for a specified period of time, or we may ask you to drink liquids to fill your bladder. Your doctor or the sonographer will provide specific instructions as necessary.
  • If available, please bring copies of any previous non-EMORY HEALTHCARE X-ray, CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) results and images with you to the imaging center.

A diagnostic ultrasound takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes, but you should expect to be at the imaging center for one to two hours.

The Ultrasound Procedure

Plan to arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time.Wear comfortable clothing. Certain exams require that you change into a hospital gown, but many do not. For most diagnostic ultrasound exams, you will be asked to lie on an examination table. The sonographer will apply gel to your skin in the area of interest and then pass the transducer firmly over the targeted area.

You may notice the sonographer typing labels onto images and making measurements during your procedure. The sonographer also may ask you to perform relatively simple tasks to aid in capturing the necessary images. For example, you may be asked to turn a certain way, hold your breath or remain still for a short period of time. Once the sonographer is satisfied with the images and the exam is complete, he or she will wipe the gel off your body.

The sonographer will then review the images he or she has obtained with the radiologist. A radiologist is a medical doctor who has undergone at least four years of specialized training in diagnostic radiology following medical school. The radiologist will compare our ultrasound images with your prior imaging results and medical records, if available. The radiologist will then create a report for your doctor. Because we want to compile all of your information before issuing a report, our sonographers are instructed not to tell you preliminary results during your study.

Some ultrasound procedures are more invasive. For example, if you are a woman and are going to have a pelvic ultrasound exam, the sonographer may need to insert a special transducer into your vagina in order to obtain the best possible pictures of your ovaries and uterus. Rest assured that our transducers are fitted with sanitary probe covers before insertion and are sterilized after each use.