Ultrasound is a quick, painless imaging method that enables care teams to diagnose and treat a range of conditions affecting children. It uses soundwaves to create images of internal structures. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles offers easy access to trusted pediatric ultrasound specialists. And our child-friendly approach helps your child have the best possible experience.
Pediatric Ultrasounds: Why Choose Us
All our radiologists specialize in pediatric imaging. Our team also includes ultrasound technologists (sonographers) specializing in pediatric scans. We combine research-based methods with years of experience to detect subtle signs of illness that can be easy to miss. Our commitment to imaging excellence leads to the high-quality care your child deserves. Meet our team.
Highlights of our program include:
- Family-centered care: We take extra steps to make ultrasounds less stressful for your child and family. In many cases, a parent is allowed in the imaging area. Before the test, we provide you with information about what to expect and how to prepare. To find out more, read our radiology and imaging patient and family resources.
- Timely access: For children with complex conditions and other urgent needs, ultrasounds may be available on short notice. We provide same-day scans when necessary, which keeps your child’s care moving forward.
- Emotional support: Child Life specialists use age-appropriate techniques to ease the anxiety some children experience with medical exams, such as ultrasounds. Our certified specialists undergo extensive training in helping children cope with stress and uncertainty.
How Do Ultrasound Tests Work?
Ultrasound uses sound waves and their echoes instead of radiation to produce real-time images of internal structures. We frequently use ultrasound to assess blood flow, detect abnormal growths, diagnose certain gastrointestinal disorders and more.
The test uses a wand that emits soundwaves, called a transducer. Pressing the transducer gently against the skin produces soundwaves that bounce off organs, muscles and other tissue. The varying density of these tissues creates different types of echoes. Ultrasounds are not as sensitive to movement as other imaging techniques. This enables us to capture the information we need even if your child can’t stay still during the test.
A computer transforms this information into moving images on a screen. Our pediatric radiologists interpret the results and send a report back to the ordering doctor.
Getting an Ultrasound: What to Expect
Our team gives you instructions on how to prepare your child for the appointment. Depending on the type of scan, your child may need to arrive with an empty stomach or drink liquids beforehand. Ultrasound appointments typically take 30 minutes to one hour.
When it’s time for your child’s scan, here’s what to expect:
- The sonographer positions your child on a hospital bed.
- They push the child’s clothes aside to access the test area. Wearing a hospital gown is sometimes necessary.
- We apply a clear gel to the area. The gel reduces friction, making it easier to pass the transducer over the skin. It also helps direct soundwaves to the appropriate area.
- The sonographer presses the transducer against the skin, holding it at different angles to capture the necessary images. This may include a few passes over the test area.
- After the scan is complete, we wipe away the gel.
Specialized Ultrasounds We Offer
Specialized ultrasound we offer include:
- Carotid ultrasound, which examines blood flow through the carotid arteries, which carry blood to the brain, neck and face. We may recommend a carotid ultrasound if your child is at risk for stroke.
- Contrast-enhanced voiding urosonography, which uses ultrasound to examine the bladder and urinary tract. This test shows whether urine is backing up into the kidneys.
- Doppler ultrasound, which is a special type of ultrasound that assesses moving objects, like blood cells. We use this technique to evaluate blood flow.
- Arterial duplex ultrasound, which combines traditional ultrasound with Doppler to check for narrowing, clots and other blockages in the arms and legs.
- Pelvic ultrasound, which helps us examine organs and structures in the pelvis. We use this scan to check for issues affecting the cervix and vagina in females. In males, we use it to check the scrotum and other organs.
- Musculoskeletal ultrasound, which examines muscles, joints and cartilage. We use this scan to detect abnormal structures.
- Venous ultrasound, which shows blood supply to major organs. Venous ultrasound helps us detect narrowing and blockages in veins.
Comprehensive Radiology and Imaging Services for Children
We offer the full range of radiology and imaging studies at our main hospital, in one convenient location. Some of these services are also available at locations throughout the Los Angeles region. Find out more about Radiology and Imaging.