Ultrasound Scans

Ultrasound examinations are undertaken in-house at our Aberdeen location and via one of our preferred providers at our London location.

Provided we have the relevant clinical indication or referral, we offer the following diagnostic ultrasound scans:

Sometimes solely having a scan is not sufficient. If this is the case, we may recommend you see one of our doctors before or immediately following your scan.

If you are interested in one of our Health Check Packages for men or women, inclusive of an abdominal, pelvic or gynaecological scan, please get in touch.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about general ultrasound. If you have a question about a specific exam, please click on the relevant hyperlinked list of exams above.

Ultrasound Scans FAQ

Diagnostic ultrasound is way of imaging structures in the body using soundwaves. Unlike X-rays, no ionizing radiation is used in ultrasound and it is deemed a safe imaging modality for pregnancies, children and adults. The long-term side-effects of excessive ultrasound exposure are unknown and therefore, ultrasound should only be used when medically indicated.
Depending on what area of the body you are getting scanned, you may or may not have to remove some items of clothing. You will need to lie down on the ultrasound table and expose the area being scanned so the sonographer can put gel on your skin. She will slide a transducer over this region to get the required views. You may be asked to roll on to your side, sit up or stand up for various images. You may even need to breathe in and hold your breath at some stage.
You will be given paper towel to wipe up all the gel and get dressed. The sonographer will tell you any significant findings from the exam. She will write a report and that will be emailed to you and your referring doctor within 24 hours.
Yes, if you take regular medication you should continue as usual with your prescription. If you are having an abdominal, renal or AAA ultrasound, we generally need you to fast for 6 hours before your exam. However, it is acceptable to take your medication with a small mouthful of water on the day of your appointment. If you are having any other kind of ultrasound, on your leg or arm for example, you can eat and drink and take your medication as per usual.
Generally, yes. Usually we need people to fast before an abdominal, renal or AAA ultrasound however, if you have diabetes it is acceptable to eat something very small in order to keep your blood sugar stable. It is important that you do not eat anything with fat in it. For example, do not have milk or butter. You do not need to fast for any other ultrasound examination, so if you’re having a shoulder or thyroid ultrasound for example, feel free to eat and drink anything you wish throughout the day. You should also take your medication as required. Tell the receptionist that you have diabetes at the time of making the appointment and we will ensure you get an appointment early in the morning.
Ultrasound can look at most of the soft tissues in the body. This includes organs, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and skin. We can also look at superficial parts of some bones. However, there are some areas we can’t access like the adult brain, inside joints, inside bowel and lungs, or very deep structures.
Ultrasound can’t travel through gas very well so it has limited applications when scanning stomach, bowel and lungs. This limitation of ultrasound also means that if you have excessive gas in your abdomen, seeing your abdominal organs clearly can sometimes be impossible. Ultrasound also can’t travel through hard tissue so we can’t assess broken bones or see through a skull into an adult brain.
If you have had an ultrasound and the results are ‘normal’, it’s not correct to say that the test didn’t see anything. If no abnormality was detected it means the ultrasound was able to rule out a whole range of problems. If your symptoms persist, another imaging test may be needed. Depending on the presenting problem, your doctor may refer you on for a CT, MRI, nuclear medicine scan, mammogram or x-ray. All of these imaging modalities demonstrate anatomy in different ways so they complement each other. None of them are better or worse, they are all different.
Yes. Performing ultrasound on people with an increased body habitus (people who are overweight) is technically difficult. The soundwaves need to travel from the transducer into the body and back out again in order to obtain an image. If the sound has to travel a long distance the image quality will degrade. The more tissue there is in the area being scanned, the further the soundwave has to travel and this will lead to poorer image quality.
The sonographer will make every effort to ensure you feel comfortable throughout your exam. Occasionally she will need to push firmly on the area being scanned. If this worries you, let her know. If you feel uncomfortable, concerned or wish to stop the examination at any point, let your sonographer know and she will look after you.
In the unlikely event you want to stop the test don’t be afraid to tell the sonographer. Depending on your presenting problem there may be an alternative way to scan you or a different test you can get done. The sonographer and referring doctor will guide you through your options and help you find what’s best for you.
This is a surprisingly common question. People think that as we have had colour TVs for decades, the technology in medical imaging is really old or lagging behind. However, we are not videoing or filming anatomy in the body. We are imaging it with sound energy, not light energy. Diagnostic ultrasound machines send soundwaves into your body. A lot of the sound energy that is sent in gets scattered or absorbed by the body’s tissues. Some of the soundwaves bounce off the tissues and come back to the transducer (the probe the sonographer holds during the scan). The soundwaves that come back into the transducer (echoes) are sent to the ultrasound machine and displayed as pixels on the screen. It’s a very clever way of converting sound energy into something we can see. We do use colour-mapping when assessing movement – particularly of blood flow. But it’s not the same as a video.

Meet our experts

Ms Caroline Westgate

  • Qualifications: ONC Medical Physics/Physiological Measurements; HNC Medical Physics/Physiological Measurements; Member of the British Society of Echocardiography; Senior Associate Member of the Royal Society of Medicine
  • Location(s): Aberdeen - ROC Private Clinic
  • Clinical Interest(s): Cardio-Vascular Ultrasound; Echocardiography
  • BIO:

    Caroline Westgate is a highly experienced Cardiac Physiologist working with ROC to provide high quality medical care, specialising in echocardiography. Ms Westgate studied at the National Heart Hospital and Westminister College and has been actively engaged in patient care since the 1980s.

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