How Much Water to Drink before Ultrasound?

An ultrasound (sonography) is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of how a fetus is developing in the womb. It can also be used to check the pelvic organs during pregnancy. The ultrasound image is produced based on the reflection of the waves of the body structures. When preparing for a pregnancy ultrasound, you will need to have a full bladder to get the best ultrasound image, but how do you know how much water to drink before ultrasound?

Why Should You Have Ultrasound?

An ultrasound may be performed to determine if there are any problems with a pregnancy, or diagnose and treat other pregnancy related conditions. A pregnancy ultrasound might be done during the first trimester of pregnancy to look for signs of Down syndrome or other problems in the developing baby. Ultrasound may also be used to:

  • Confirm normal pregnancy
  • Ascertain the baby’s age
  • Determine baby’s heart rate
  • Confirm multiple fetus (twins)
  • Identify any medical issues (ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages)
  • Identify problems of the cervix, ovaries, placenta, and uterus

A pregnancy ultrasound might also be performed in the second and/or third trimesters to:

  • Determine position, growth, baby's age, and occasionally, gender
  • Identify medical issues with fetus development
  • Observe the pelvis, placenta, and amniotic fluid

Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrasound is also a tool that can help a doctor in evaluating, diagnosing and treating other medical conditions. Common ultrasound examination procedures may be used to:

  • View breast tissue (Breast ultrasound)
  • Assess bone fragility (Bone sonometry)
  • View abdominal organs and tissues (Abdominal ultrasound)
  • Examine the heart (Echocardiogram)
  • Visualize ocular structures (Ophthalmic ultrasound)
  • View blood flow through a blood vessel, organs, or other structures (Doppler ultrasound)
  • Ultrasound-guided needle placement
  • Collect a sample of tissue (Ultrasound-guided biopsies)

How Much Water to Drink before Ultrasound?

Pregnancy ultrasounds examinations are performed typically using a transabdominal ultrasound through the mother's abdomen. You will need to have partially filled bladder to get the best ultrasound image. You will be asked to drink water before the test. It’s best if you empty your bladder an hour before the appointment, then drink two more glasses of water and avoid urinating before the procedure. Water in the bladder moves your intestines from the pelvis region into your abdomen, this helps the viewing of the uterus, cervix and pregnancy.

Occasionally an internal imaging scan through the vagina (transvaginal ultrasound) may also be needed. You’ll be able to empty your bladder after the transabdominal ultrasound procedure is completed, and before the transvaginal ultrasound is started.

How Much Time Should I Allow for My Ultrasound?

Besides how much water to drink before ultrasound, you should also know about the time that you should save for the test. Arrive for your examination at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment. This gives you some time to relax before the ultrasound and complete any patient information forms that may be needed. To avoid any stress, allow up to 1 ½ hours for the appointment. This is usually sufficient time for the ultrasound to be performed and reviewed, the images to be prepared, the report to be written, and a consultation with the ultrasound physician.

How Long do Ultrasound Results Take?

Usually, an ultrasound procedure takes only about half an hour. However, some procedures, such as vascular imaging, can take longer because of the number and size of the organs being examined, and the detailed imaging that is required. When you make your appointment, it’s always best to ask the hospital or radiology receptionist how long the type of ultrasound you are having typically takes. The time that it takes your physician to receive a written report on the ultrasound examination will vary, depending on:

  • The urgency with which the result is needed
  • The complexity of the examination
  • Whether more information is needed from your doctor before the examination can be interpreted by the radiologist
  • Whether you’ve had previous medical imaging that needs to be compared with the new test or procedure (common if you have a disease or condition that is being followed to assess the progress).
  • How the report is conveyed from the practice or hospital to your physician (i.e. email, phone, fax or snail-mail)

It’s sometimes best to just ask the clinic, private practice, or hospital where you are having your ultrasound when your doctor is likely to have the written report.

What about Sonohysterogram or HyCoSy Procedure?

Now you know how much water to drink before ultrasound, what about other tests such as HyCoSy or sonohysterogram? Is there anything that you should know beforehand?

Sonohysterography is a procedure in which fluid is injected inside the uterus through the cervix, and ultrasound is used to view the uterine cavity. The injected fluid allows a more detailed image of the inside of the uterus rather than with just ultrasound alone. The optimal time to conduct a HyCoSy or sonohysterogram procedure is anywhere from day 7 to day 10 of a regular 28-day menstrual cycle, when your period has ended, with day 1 counted as the first day.

HyCoSy is an examination of your Fallopian tubes. The Fallopian tubes are the place where the female egg meets with the male sperm to create a baby. It is important that your Fallopian tubes are open so that this can happen, because if there is a blockage, it might stop you from becoming pregnant.

Your bladder doesn’t need to be full for these tests, unless you’re also scheduled for a pelvic examination on the same day, and you are also able to eat and drink normally before and after the test. However, it’s very important that you aren’t pregnant when you have a sonohysterogram or a HyCoSy, because these tests can prevent the implantation of the embryo. 

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