An ultrasound (sometimes called a sonogram) is a type of procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of your body.  An ultrasound scan can help in the diagnosis of a condition or guide a surgeon during specific procedures.  Dissimilar to other imaging techniques, ultrasound uses no radiation. 



Why are they Performed?

Ultrasound scans are typically associated with pregnancy, used to evaluate foetal development. However, the test may also be used for many other reasons, including:


  • Diagnosing gallbladder disease
  • Analyse blood flow
  • Help perform certain biopsies
  • Assess a breast lump
  • Inspect your thyroid gland
  • Discover genital and prostate complications
  • Evaluate joint inflammation (synovitis)
  • Assess metabolic bone disease


An ultrasound may be required if you are experiencing pain, swelling, or other symptoms that require an internal assessment of your organs.  



What to expect

The scan can take anything from 5-60 minutes, depending on why you are having one done.  It is usually painless but you may experience mild discomfort as the sensor is pressed against you, especially if you are required to have a full bladder or the area is tender, or inserted into your body.


A small medical tool called an ultrasound probe, which gives off high-frequency sound waves, is used.  The sound waves bounce off different parts of the body, which creates echoes that are then picked up and turned into an image that is displayed on a monitor.  There are different types of ultrasound scans, including:

External Ultrasound Scan

An external sonogram scan is commonly used to observe your heart or an unborn baby.  It can also be used to examine organs in the tummy and pelvis, as well as other organs or tissues that can be assessed through the skin, such as joints and muscles.  The radiographer will put gel on the skin of the area they are going to examine to allow the sensor to slide easily and create clearer images.  The gel used in this technique is easy to remove from skin and clothing.

Internal Ultrasound Scan

An internal examination allows the doctor to observe the body and organs such as the prostate gland, ovaries and womb in more detail.  A transvaginal ultrasound means through the vagina.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

A special transducer is gently inserted into the vagina to get a quick look at the uterus, womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries.  If you are undergoing a transvaginal sonogram, you will be asked to lay on your back and raise your knees to allow your doctor to insert an ultrasound probe in to your vagina or rectum.  Internal examinations may cause some discomfort but should not take very long and are rarely painful.

Endoscopic Ultrasound Scan

An endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a minimally invasive technique used to examine gastrointestinal (digestive) and lung diseases.  During the procedure, a probe attached to a long, flexible tube (an endoscope) is passed through your body, usually through the mouth, to produce images of the lining and walls of your digestive tract, chest and organs such as the pancreas and liver.  You may be given a sedative and local anaesthetic to keep you calm and numb your throat to ease any discomfort during the process.

Alternatives to ultrasound depend on the reason you are having it, what past of the body is being assessed and your individual requirements.  Alternatives to an ultrasound could include a CT scan, an MRI scan or an X-ray.




Typically, following the scan there are no after-effects and you can return to normal activities immediately.  If you received a sedative to help you relax, you may need to remain in hospital following the procedure until the effects of the medication have worn off, and you will need to arrange for travel home from the hospital and someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours.


In most cases following the procedure, the radiographer may arrange for your results to be sent to your doctor who will review the images and check for abnormalities. They will then go through them with you a few days later.  Should they find anything irregular from the ultrasound you may need to go through further diagnostic techniques such as a CT scan or MRI.  If your doctor is able to make a full diagnosis based on the results from the sonogram you may begin treatment immediately, if required.



Risks and Complications

An ultrasound scan is a safe, non-invasive procedure that does not involve exposure to radiation and uses low-power sound waves, which have no known risks. External and internal sonograms usually do not have any side effects and are typically painless, although you may experience some discomfort as the probe is pressed over the affected area or inserted into your body.  If you are allergic to latex, you should inform your doctor so they do not use a latex-covered probe during an internal examination.


Endoscopic sonograms are sometimes more uncomfortable and may result in temporary complications such as bleeding, sore throat or infection, or more serious complications such as internal bleeding or tearing of the intestinal wall or throat.  Contact your doctor if you are worried about any symptoms following the procedure.



Need Help?

At One Healthcare we can book you in for an ultrasound, usually within 48 hours.  The scan is available at One Ashford Hospital in Kent and One Hatfield Hospital in Hertfordshire.


You can use your private medical insurance or pay for your Ultrasound treatment. We offer competitive, fixed price packages. If you are using your health insurance, please contact your insurer first for approval and let them know you’d like to be treated at One Hatfield Hospital.

Why One Hatfield

  • Modern purpose-built hospital opened in December 2017
  • Fast access to diagnostics including MRI, X-ray and Ultrasound
  • Private, spacious, en-suite rooms
  • Specialist physiotherapy and nursing teams
  • Little or no waiting time
  • ‘Ultra clean air’ theatres
  • Freshly prepared food
  • Calm, dignified experience

Contact us and find out more

If you are based in and around Hertfordshire, St Albans, Stevenage, Watford, Barnet, North London, Welwyn or Bedfordshire and would like to visit the One Hatfield Hospital please click here.

Diagnostics & Imaging Pricing Guide at One Hatfield Hospital

This is a list of guide prices for some of common Diagnostics & Imaging treatments and procedures.


Treatment Guide Price
MRI scan  (one part)  £540
Ultrasound  (one part) £400
X Ray   (one part) £160


Contact the Hospital About Ultrasound
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