Ultrasound Exams

Ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure that does not use radiation, but uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of the area(s) of concern. Commonly used to see a fetus during pregnancy, ultrasound is also used to look at muscles, tendons, and internal organs. The images are shown in real time, so they reveal movement, such as blood flowing through blood vessels or movement of tendons.

Ultrasound uses a transducer, a wand-shaped device, that when gently pressed against the skin detects sound waves and their echoes and then converts them into images of the body.

Doppler ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound that evaluates blood velocity as it flows through a blood vessel. This type of ultrasound is used to view the veins and arteries of the abdominal organs as well as other vessels throughout the body.

Scheduling Your Ultrasound Exam

Ultrasound appointments are scheduled M-F from 7:00am to 4:00pm. Ultrasounds are scheduled by appointment only by your referring physician. If you need to reschedule your ultrasound or if you have been asked to schedule your appointment yourself, please call Radiology Scheduling at 314-362-7111 or 877-992-7111, M-F from 7:00am to 5:30pm. If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician's order in hand before calling Radiology Scheduling.

Before Your Ultrasound Exam

  • Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your appointment to allow for registration time.

  • Please bring a photo ID (driver’s license or state ID) and insurance card(s) with you to your appointment.

  • If you are scheduled for a biopsy, paracentesis, or thoracentesis, please bring an updated list of all current medications to your appointment.

  • Depending on the type of exam, you will be given instructions about whether you can eat or drink anything before your exam.

    • For an ultrasound of any upper abdominal areas including; gall bladder, pancreas, liver, spleen, kidney, and aorta, do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours prior to your exam.

    • For an ultrasound of the pelvis, you will need to have a full bladder. Please drink 6 eight oz. glasses of liquid. Finish drinking this liquid one hour prior to your exam. Do Not Empty your bladder before the exam.

    • There is no preparation if you are having an ultrasound of an extremity or thyroid.

  • Take your medication as you normally do, unless your referring physician has told you otherwise.

  • Be prepared to discuss your current medications, allergies, past medical history, and any previous surgeries.

During Your Ultrasound Exam

All radiology ultrasounds at Barnes-Jewish Hospital are performed by a highly trained, registered sonographer, an ultrasound radiologist resident and the ultrasound attending radiologist. A hypoallergenic, water-soluble gel will be applied to your skin. Then the transducer will be pressed against your skin and moved over the area(s) being examined. The sound waves will then generate the real-time images seen on the screen.

An ultrasound exam generally takes 45 minutes. For a more exact length of time for your specific exam, please call the Ultrasound department at 314-454-8885.

Questions About Your Ultrasound Exam

Please call the Ultrasound department at 314-454-8885 with any questions about your ultrasound exam.


All radiology exams are read by a physician known as a Radiologist. The radiologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital are all specialized experts in their field. The radiologist will send the results of your exam to your referring physician’s office within 24 hours. If needed, the radiologists are available to discuss your results with your referring physician. Your physician’s office will then in turn discuss the results with you.

About Your Bill

You will receive two bills for your exam:

  • The hospital bill includes the cost to cover equipment, supplies, and technical personnel. For questions, call Hospital Billing at 314-362-0710.

  • The radiologist’s bill covers the professional interpretation of your exam. For questions, call Mallinckrodt Institute (Washington University) Patient Accounts at 314-273-0500.

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