Queensland Diagnostic Imaging

Ultrasound Scans

What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound uses sound waves to form pictures of part of the body. A transducer (the ultrasound probe) moves over the skin producing and receiving the soundwaves. A special gel is applied to the skin to help transmit the sound waves. Ultrasounds are particularly useful for detecting body tissue and blood flow.

How should I prepare?

If your ultrasound examination requires specific preparation, we’ll let you know when you make your appointment. Please bring any previous ultrasound or X-ray images that are relevant to your examination. Your radiologist may use these for comparison. Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment so that any paperwork can be completed.

How long does it take?

Most ultrasound procedures take between 20 and 30 minutes, though some may take longer. Obstetric ultrasounds can sometimes take longer than expected if the baby’s position makes it harder for the technician to gain a clear image. They will also take longer if there’s more than one baby to examine.

What can I expect during the ultrasound?

Your sonographer may ask you to change into a gown, depending on the part of your body being examined. Once you’re prepared, the sonographer will help position you on the examination table or chair. A water-based gel will be spread on your skin where needed. If you aren’t in a gown, the sonographer will arrange paper towel to protect your clothes from the gel. The gel helps the soundwaves travel to and from the transducer, and ensures that it moves comfortably over your skin. The sonographer will move the transducer around on your body, seeking the best images possible.

What will it cost?

If you have a current Medicare card and referral form from your health practitioner, you may be eligible to have the ultrasound bulk-billed with no direct cost to you. Depending on the type of ultrasound, there may be an out-of-pocket expense. If this is the case, we’ll let you know when you book your appointment.

When will I get the results?

We will prepare a report for your doctor or health practitioner and send it electronically within 24 to 36 hours. Urgent test results are available as soon as possible. You should make an appointment with your referring doctor to receive and talk about your test results.

What does an ultrasound feel like?

Ultrasounds are generally pain-free and usually quite gentle. Sometimes the sonographer may need to push quite firmly on the transducer to get a clearer image. This might be a little uncomfortable for a short period of time but shouldn’t hurt.

When should I have an ultrasound during pregnancy?

You should have an ultrasound any time your referring doctor or health care professional deems it necessary. However, most doctors refer women for three routine ultrasounds during their pregnancy. The first scan, usually completed during the first trimester of pregnancy, is a dating scan. The second scan is usually performed between 11 and 13 weeks of pregnancy. This is commonly known as the Nuchal Translucency Scan. The third scan is the morphology scan, completed between 19 and 21 weeks of pregnancy.

What is a dating ultrasound?

A dating ultrasound or dating scan is usually done in the first trimester. At this time, the embryo (or fetus) can be measured to determine its age and the expected due date with reasonable accuracy. Generally, dating scans are done after six weeks of pregnancy, when the embryo can be seen in more detail. This scan is important to ensure the baby is growing in the right location (intra-uterine) and not developing outside of the uterus (an ectopic pregnancy). This scan also assesses your ovaries and uterus for any pathologies that may affect the growing baby. During the early weeks of pregnancy, it can be difficult for the sonographer to view the embryo using the transducer across the abdomen. If this is the case, the ultrasound may be performed by inserting a transducer into the vagina (a transvaginal ultrasound). This procedure will be explained in detail at the time of your ultrasound should it be deemed necessary.

What is a nuchal translucency ultrasound?

A nuchal translucency ultrasound sometimes referred to as NTS, is completed toward the end of the first trimester. It is a non-invasive assessment used to indicate whether your baby has a low or high risk of certain chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome, Edwards Syndrome or Patau Syndrome. This is a screening test and provides an early indicator to your referring doctor. The assessment consists of a maternal blood test and specific measurements of the baby. The information from these tests is combined to calculate a risk factor. The ultrasound is performed between 12 and 13.5 weeks of pregnancy. A small fluid-filled space beneath the skin at the back of the baby’s neck known as the Nuchal Translucency is measured. The scan will also accurately date the pregnancy. The wellbeing of the baby is assessed during this scan and it may be possible to detect some physical abnormalities. During this scan, the sonographer will also look at the basic anatomy of the growing baby. It may be difficult for a lot of detail to be seen, due to the small size of the baby and the position of the baby and placenta.

What is a morphology ultrasound?

A morphology ultrasound is completed between 19 and 21 weeks of pregnancy to examine the baby and placenta in detail. This scan is a medical examination to assess the baby for structural abnormalities. It will look at the baby’s spine, head, heart and other organs to determine if they appear normal. While this is a very detailed scan, it does have its limitations and not all anomalies are detected on ultrasound. It is at this scan that we may be able to determine the gender of your baby. This is not guaranteed though, as the visualisation may be hindered by the baby’s position or other technical limitations. Please let your sonographer know at the beginning of your appointment if you would like to know the sex of your baby

Appointment Preparation
  • Follow preparations advised at the time of booking appointment.
  • Quoted fees payable at the completion of your appointment.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment.

For more details on what to bring, payment & results click below:

Where can I have an ultrasound?

You can have an ultrasound at any QDI clinic.