Skip to main content

What Is an Ultrasound?

Ultrasound scans (also called ultrasonography or sonography) use sound waves to take pictures of organs inside the body. A special wand called a transducer gives off high-frequency sound that’s inaudible to the human ear and records the echoes as the sound waves bounce back. Ultrasound images show the size, shape and consistency of soft tissues and organs as a live image on a computer screen.

Pediatric ultrasound scans are a type of radiology and advanced imaging service—and are painless and free of radiation.


Who Benefits From an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound might be recommended for your child in order to:

  • Diagnose conditions, such as those affecting the heart, blood vessels and organs.
  • Help see inside the body during medical procedures.
  • Detect and treat soft-tissue injuries.

What to Expect During an Ultrasound

Ultrasound technologists (also known as sonographers) have special training in how to perform ultrasounds. Our facility features specialized lifts and equipment for kids and adults who have disabilities, complex conditions or serious injury.

Child life specialists might help your child by offering distractions, such as sound and lighting features that help calm and relax patients during an ultrasound exam.

An ultrasound test can last between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on the type of ultrasound.

Sedation Services

We make every effort to help your child relax by creating a soothing environment. Sedation services might help if your child’s disabilities, anxiety or pain might interfere with the successful completion of an ultrasound. Our advanced imaging services are located adjacent to our surgery suites, making it easy to provide sedation and monitor your child during testing.

Performing the Ultrasound

A sonographer helps your child get into position on the bed next to the ultrasound machine. The sonographer puts warm gel on your child’s skin.

The sonographer moves a special wand called a transducer over the parts of the body that need testing. As the wand touches the body, images show up immediately on the computer monitor.

You can reassure your child by talking to them, holding their hands, and distracting them with familiar stories or thinking games (spelling, addition, etc.).


After an Ultrasound

A specially trained pediatric radiologist interprets the ultrasound. We usually notify the referring provider of the exam results within 48 hours. We’ll send the results to the doctor who ordered the exam—usually within 48 hours. If the results are urgent, we’ll contact the doctor immediately. To receive the results, contact the doctor who ordered the scan.


Integrated Care

At Gillette Children’s, you’ll work with a team that specializes in providing imaging tests for children and teens who have disabilities. You’ll have access to a child-friendly atmosphere and if needed, types of sedation to make an ultrasound a smooth experience.

We collaborate with St. Paul Radiology to provide expert reading of pediatric imaging studies. St. Paul Radiology is nationally known for its specialized expertise in interpreting radiological studies of children.


Ultrasound tests are available at: