Children’s paediatric ultrasound imaging of the abdomen uses sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body.

It does not use radiation and has no known harmful effects. It is very useful for evaluating the causes of abdominal, pelvic or scrotal pain in children.

paediatic x-ray scan

Children’s paediatric ultrasound imaging of the abdomen uses sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. It does not use radiation and has no known harmful effects. It is very useful for evaluating the causes of abdominal, pelvic or scrotal pain in children.

Preparation will depend on the type of exam. When scheduling your child’s ultrasound, ask if there are specific instructions for eating and drinking prior to the exam. Your child should wear loose, comfortable clothing and may be asked to wear a gown.

Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by bats, ships and fishermen. 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 the object’s size, shape and consistency. This includes whether the object is solid or filled with fluid.

In medicine, ultrasound is used 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 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. These signature waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor. 

One or more frames of the moving pictures are typically captured as still images. Short video loops of the images may also be saved.

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 colour pictures that represent the flow of blood through the blood vessels.

Most ultrasound exams are painless, fast and easily tolerated.

Your child will lie face-up on an examining table. The technologist or radiologist may ask the patient to roll side to side or maintain a prone position for some portion of the exam. The radiologist or technologist will spread warm gel on the skin, then press and move the transducer firmly against the abdomen. 

The transducer will be moved back and forth until the desired images are captured. There may be slight discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined.

If the area being scanned is tender, your child may feel pressure or minor pain.

If a Doppler ultrasound study is performed, your child may actually hear pulse-like sounds that change in pitch as the blood flow is monitored and measured.

Once the exam is complete, the gel will be wiped off your child’s skin.

After the exam, children should be able to resume their normal activities.

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