Ultrasound scanning

What is an ultrasound scan?

An ultrasound scan is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of an area of your body.  A small handheld probe (transducer) is placed onto your skin and moved over the part of the body being examined. Lubricating gel is put onto your skin to allow the probe to move smoothly. This is a widely used diagnostic test to examine the organs and soft tissues of the body. The ultrasound is carried out by a radiologist or your consultant. 

How much does an ultrasound scan cost?

The cost of an ultrasound scan starts from £290, depending on the area of your body that needs to be scanned. This is because imaging larger areas or multiple parts of your body require several scans to be taken by a highly trained radiologist or consultant. One of our expert doctors will then assess each scan carefully before providing you with your results. 

A GP or consultant referral is required and we’re recognised by all major private medical insurers, and also offer a range of self-payment options.   

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If you’re worried about symptoms or would like a second opinion, find your nearest centre to book an appointment or make an enquiry.

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0808 304 2332

Why do I need an ultrasound scan?

An ultrasound scan can give information that leads to or helps make a diagnosis about your medical condition. An ultrasound can also be used to monitor an existing condition. It’ll be your doctor or another healthcare professional who decides that you might benefit from having an ultrasound scan. 

Ultrasound scans are useful for investigating areas of soft tissue which don’t show up as well on an X-ray scan. They can help detect any changes in the appearance, size or outline of your organs, tissues, arteries or joints and can help in the diagnosis of some health conditions. You may be recommended one so we can:

  • Assess areas where you may be experiencing symptoms, pain or swelling 
  • Diagnose certain conditions 

Ultrasound scans may also be used as part of additional tests such as biopsies, including ultrasound-guided biopsies and a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) biopsy. 

What happens at an ultrasound scan?

Preparing for your scan

For most ultrasound scans, there’s usually no preparation needed. You may be told to stop eating up to four hours before your scan or drink plenty of water before the procedure to fill your bladder. 

For an internal transrectal ultrasound, you may be required to empty your bowel before you come for your appointment. If you’re having a biopsy taken at the same time, there may also be some additional instructions.  

You’ll find the relevant information in your appointment letter and your consultant will talk this through with you in more detail.

Before the ultrasound scan

For most scans, you’ll be able to wear your clothes, but your consultant may ask you to change into a patient gown depending on the type of ultrasound scan you’re having, and the part of your body being investigated. 

A private changing area and locker for your personal items are provided for your use during the scan.

During the ultrasound scan

Once you’re ready to have your scan, your healthcare assistant or nurse will take you into the scanning room.  

For an external ultrasound scan, your radiologist may ask you to lie down or sit up, depending on the part of your body being investigated. A cold gel will be spread over the skin, this is to help transmit the soundwaves and create a clear image. You may feel some pressure as the probe is pressed against your skin, but this shouldn’t be painful. 

If you’re having an internal ultrasound scan, your radiologist will ask you to lie down and help you into the correct position. They’ll place a small probe into the part of your body being examined. You may find this a little uncomfortable as the probe is covered in a cold gel, but it shouldn’t hurt.  

Depending on which area you are having scanned, you may be in the room for up to 45 minutes. 

After the ultrasound scan

Once your scan has finished, your radiologist will help you off the couch and you’ll usually be able to go straight home.  

Your results will be sent to the doctor who referred you for the scan, usually within 24 – 48 hours of the scan being completed. 

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