Ultrasound Instructions

Welcome to the Ultrasound Department. We have been a part of Mountain Kidney & Hypertension Associates since 2002 and are accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories (ICAVL). Our two technologists, Robin and Harmony, are both Registered Vascular Technologists and Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. We have performed more than 6,000 exams.

Also called sonography, ultrasound is a simple imaging procedure that bounces high-frequency sound waves off parts of the body. The reflected echoes are recorded and displayed as a visual image. Because these images can also show motion, ultrasound is used for a variety of applications, including studying blood flow through arteries and veins (this part of the exam is known as Doppler). No radiation or injections are used in ultrasound imaging which makes this modality an extremely safe, non-invasive diagnostic tool. Pacemakers, defibrillators and metal rods or pins are not affected by ultrasound.

As part of the procedure, you will be asked to lie first on your back, then on your sides. You may be asked to hold your breath occasionally, but for the most part, you should lie quietly, relax and breathe normally. The technologist will begin by applying a water based gel to the area to be evaluated and then a small microphone-like device called a transducer is pressed firmly against the skin and swept back and forth over the area of interest. Pictures are taken and sent to a computer where your study will be read by one of our four doctors who specialize in the interpretation of ultrasound and Doppler images. The technologist will not give you the results of your test. A report will be sent to the physician who referred you for the test and he/she will notify you of the results.

Allow up to 1 hour for the exam and wear loose, comfortable clothes. For most exams you will not need to change out of your clothes. For the Vein Mapping study, we will need to access the entire length of both arms, so dress accordingly. You can resume your normal activities immediately after the test and there are no side effects.

We perform the following types of studies:

  • Diagnostic Renal Ultrasound -- this exam assesses the kidneys to determine size, shape and to detect a mass, cyst, stone or other obstruction in the kidney.
  • Renal Artery Doppler Ultrasound -- this exam evaluates blood flow to the kidneys to determine if there is a narrowing or blockage of the renal arteries (also called stenosis or renovascular disease). The abdominal aorta is also evaluated. You will hear pulse-like sounds during this test and this is normal.
  • Transplant Renal Ultrasound and Renal Artery Doppler -- same as above for a transplanted kidney.

Preparation for the above exams is as follows:

  • For morning appointments, do not eat food or drink liquids after midnight the night before your exam.
  • Take medications as usual with a small amount of water.
  • For noon or later appointments, do not eat food or drink liquids 6 hours prior to your exam.
  • Do not smoke or chew gum prior to your exam as they can increase stomach gas.

We also perform these studies:

  • Diagnostic Bladder Ultrasound - this exam evaluates the bladder to detect a mass and is also used to measure the amount of urine remaining in the bladder after voiding.
  • Upper Extremity Vein Mapping Ultrasound - this exam evaluates the size of the veins and arteries in the arms and assesses the suitability for a fistula (dialysis access) in the event that one may be needed in the future.
  • Carotid - This examination evaluates the carotid arteries.

If you are having only a Vein Mapping or Bladder ultrasound, there is no preparation for these exams. If you are having one of these tests combined with a Renal ultrasound or Renal Artery Doppler, you must follow the fasting prep outlined above.

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