When your child is scheduled for a radiology test, both you and your child may have questions about it. We encourage parents to read this information, then talk about the test with your child.

What is an ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a safe, painless test that uses sound waves to produce pictures of body organs and tissues. No radiation is produced.

How is the test performed?

A technologist (ultrasonographer) will take you and your child to the exam room, where your child will lie on a padded exam table.

The technologist will apply a warm gel to a transducer (which looks like a microphone) and gently rub it across your child's skin. The transducer sends sound waves through the body. Your child will not be able to feel these sound waves.

As the sound waves travel through the body, they send echoes back through the transducer to the computer. The computer makes an image of the sound wave patterns, and the technologist takes pictures of these images. It is important for your child to remain relatively still during this test.

A radiologist will check the images before you leave the facility. The radiologist will study the images and send the results to your child's doctor.

How do I tell my child about this test?

Because you know your child best, explain this test to your child in a way that he will understand before you come to Children's. The staff also will explain the procedure to you and your child before and during the test.

Will it hurt?

For many children, the most important thing to know is whether or not this test will hurt. Assure your child that although there may be some discomfort, it will only last a few minutes. Remind your child that this test is being done to help the doctor find out how her body is working inside. By talking about the test with your child, you may help her be more comfortable during the test, which will make the procedure easier for your child and you.

Does my child have to do anything

different before the test?

Your child may be asked not to eat or drink anything, including water, for a number of hours before the test, depending on her age. A Children's staff member or your child's doctor will tell you how long, if at all, your child will have to stop eating or drinking before the test.

Depending on what area the ultrasound is looking at, the test can take from 30 to 60 minutes.

Children under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

What can my child expect after the test?

Your child may resume normal activity and diet.

General radiology requirements

  • Pregnant mothers: Women who are pregnant can be in the exam room. They must have a family member or friend over the age of 18 accompany their child into the examination room during the exam (with the exception of the ultrasound and nuclear medicine rooms).
  • Family or friends under the age of 18 years old: If you are not the patient and under the age of 18 years old you will not be allowed to remain in the radiology exam room during the exam.
  • Siblings: Siblings are not allowed in the radiology room while the exam is being performed (with the exception of the ultrasound rooms). Please make arrangements to have an adult accompany them in the waiting room.
  • Attire: Children wearing clothing with snaps or buttons will need to change into hospital attire. Any item such as jewelry, undergarments with metal, or EKG patches in affected area will be removed prior to the exam.