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During the Ultrasound
For the most part, ultrasound is considered a painless, non-invasive diagnostic tool. The procedure usually takes from 30 minutes to an hour.
Most ultrasound scans can be performed with the transducer placed atop the skin, with the sound waves aimed at the organ or body part being tested. The patient is usually placed in a comfortable position that provides the ultrasound technician (sonographer) access to the part of the body being tested.
The area being studied is covered with a small amount of gel to eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin. The sonographer moves the transducer across the body part being studied to obtain images.
You may feel pressure as the transducer is moved over an area, and if the area is sensitive, you may feel pain, but the waves from the transducer do not cause this pain.
If Doppler ultrasound is used, you may hear pulse-like "whooshing" sounds that change in pitch as the blood flow is monitored.
Some exams are considered 'invasive ultrasounds,' where the transducer is attached to a probe and inserted into a natural opening in the body. These exams may cause some discomfort or pain due to the sensitivity of the tissue being touched by the probe, not by the ultrasound waves.
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