The ultrasound department at HEY is a sonographer-led department with all sonographers undertaking independent reporting. We have a very active sonographer musculo-skeletal (MSK) service which includes sonographers performing therapeutic steroid injections. There is sonographer role extension into specialist areas of paediatric, head and neck and contrast ultrasound.

The general and MSK ultrasound service has expanded into primary care settings and is working closely with the local PCTs and GP surgeries to develop the ethos of integrated primary care.

The service works closely with gynaecology to deliver a quality patient centred service, which offers diagnosis and management advice to GPs in a primary care setting. This is an innovative service for the Hull locality.

The national Nuchal Translucency screening programme is supported by our department.

What is ultrasound?

An ultrasound scan builds up a picture of part of the inside of the body using sound waves of a frequency above the audible range of the human ear. A small hand-held sensor, which is pressed carefully against the skin surface, both generates sound waves and detects any echoes reflected back off the surfaces and tissue boundaries of internal organs. The sensor can be moved over the skin to view the organ from different angles, the pictures being displayed on a TV monitor screen and recorded for subsequent study. A gel will be applied to your skin over the area to be scanned, for example the abdomen. The gel allows the sensor to slide easily over the skin and helps to produce clearer pictures.

You will be cared for by a small team and seen by a radiologist or a sonographer depending upon the type of investigation you are having. During the scan the radiologist/sonographer will look at the images on the television screen. After the scan, the images will be examined further by the radiologist/sonographer, who will prepare a report on his/her findings. This may take some time to reach your referring doctor, but is normally less than 14 days. You could ask the radiologist or sonographer how long it might take before results are through.

Ultrasound images complement other forms of scans and are widely used for many different parts of the body. They can also be used to study blood flow and to detect any narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, for example, in the neck.

Ultrasound is also used for intimate examinations, for example of the prostate gland in men or the womb or ovaries in women. For some of these examinations it may be necessary to place an ultrasound probe in the vagina or the rectum to look at internal structures. If you are having an intimate examination the radiologist will describe the procedure to you, and your consent will be sought. In these cases, it is normal for a third person (a “chaperone”) to be present and, if one is not, you may request this if you wish.

It is considered to be very safe with no known risks.

Sometimes you may need to prepare for the scan. For example, if your pelvis, kidney or bladder are to be scanned, you may be required to ensure that your bladder is full before the examination can begin. For some examinations such as gall bladder and pancreas, you may be required to fast for a specified number of hours. If so, this will be explained in the accompanying appointment letter. You should tell the radiology department in advance if you have had a similar ultrasound recently.