22 Sep, 2023

How To Prepare for Your Ultrasound Appointment and What To Expect on the Day

Your Ultrasound Scan: Preparation Instructions

If you've been allocated an NHS ultrasound appointment via Scan.com, this helpful guide will give you all the information you need to prepare for your scan, including:

  • what to expect
  • when to arrive
  • what to wear
  • how to prepare for a full bladder scan

You should have received a text message confirming whether you need a full bladder for your scan, or if there are no preparations needed for your scan. Even if you don’t need a full bladder, we recommend reading sections 1 and 2 of this guide to make sure you understand the procedure and are as comfortable as possible on the day.

Full bladder instructions are in section 3.

1. What to expect

What is an ultrasound scan?

An ultrasound scan is a safe and non-invasive way to capture images of the inside of your body. It uses a scanning probe called a transducer, which creates high-frequency sound waves that humans can’t hear.

These bounce off the soft tissues and fluids in your body, creating echoes that are recorded by the transducer and displayed as images in real time.

Ultrasound doesn’t use any radiation and is a quick procedure to have, lasting from 10-20 minutes. You can continue the rest of your day as normal afterwards.

On the day:

  • Please arrive for your appointment at least 15 minutes before it is due to start. If a receptionist is on duty, please make yourself known to them. Otherwise, please take a seat in the waiting room. A member of staff will call your name and take you to the scanning room when they are ready to see you.
  • The staff will explain the procedure to you and answer your questions, and get your verbal consent before starting. You might be asked to undress partially or adjust your clothing.
  • You’ll be asked to lie down on a couch, and some lubricating gel will be applied to your skin or the ultrasound probe - it may feel cold. The probe is gently moved over the surface of the skin and an image is produced on the monitor. For an internal scan, such as a transvaginal or rectal scan, a smaller ultrasound probe is inserted into your body. Please note that you can still have a transvaginal internal scan if you are on your period.
  • Your procedure may be performed by either a male or female member of staff. A friend or relative is welcome to attend your appointment with you. If you would like to have a medical chaperone, this can be requested but your appointment might need to be rescheduled to when one is available. Please let us know beforehand if you require a chaperone.

2. What to wear

For all ultrasound appointments:

To help your sonographer easily access the area being scanned, we recommend wearing soft, comfortable clothing, ideally a top and separate bottoms, rather than a dress, jumpsuit or bodysuit. This is because you might need to adjust your clothing, such as lowering your waistband or lifting your shirt up, depending on the area being scanned.

For shoulder or upper body scans, we suggest wearing a vest top that can easily be adjusted.

For intimate scans, such as internal, transvaginal, or testicular scans, you’ll be required to undress from the waist down. A modesty cover will be provided during the scan.

Medical gowns are not provided at this scanning centre, so please dress accordingly, or bring a change of clothing that is suitable for your procedure.

3. How to prepare for a full bladder scan

You should have received a text message confirming whether or not you need to attend your scan appointment with a full bladder. This is usually for some pelvic and renal scans, and can help generate more defined images.

If you’ve been told you’ll need a full bladder for your scan, you must finish drinking two pints of water (1 litre) an hour before your appointment, and not empty your bladder (urinate) until after your scan has been completed. Bathroom facilities are available on-site for your comfort.

If you’ve been told to attend your scan with a full bladder, please note that it may not be possible to carry out your scan if you have not completed these preparations.

4. What happens if you don't attend your appointment

If you don't attend your appointment, or cancel within 5 days' notice of your scan, this will count as DNA (Did Not Attend). If this happens more than once, you will be discharged back to your GP and will have to be re-referred for a scan.

It's important to let us know with more than 5 days' notice if you can't make your appointment.

Please keep in mind that if you're due to have an internal transvaginal scan and cancel due to your menstrual cycle, this will count as a DNA. This is because it is safe to have the scan while on your period and the results and procedure will not be affected.


If you have any questions about your ultrasound appointment, or these instructions, please contact our friendly team

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