What to Expect When Your Child Needs an Ultrasound

Your child’s doctor has ordered an ultrasound examination to help with your child’s diagnosis. An ultrasound sends out very high frequency sound waves that pass through the body and sends back “echoes” as they bounce off organs, vessels and tissues. These echoes are used to create pictures of the body that are displayed on a computer screen. Ultrasound examinations can be done on any soft tissue, such as the liver, gallbladder, kidneys and spleen. In infants, the brain, spine and hips can be also be examined with ultrasound.

At Mary Bridge, our pediatric imaging team is trained to work with children to evaluate their individual needs and complete all tests as quickly and as comfortably as possible.

You and your child are welcome to ask questions at anytime before or after the ultrasound. A Child Life Specialist who is trained to explain the scan and reduce anxiety or discomfort can also be scheduled to be with you and your child the day of the scan to help make the appointment go smoothly. Please call our Imaging/Radiology Child Life Specialist at 253-403-2260 to assist you.

Before the Exam

Any instructions for preparing your child for the ultrasound will be given to you when scheduling the exam. If your child has special needs, such as an interpreter, please inform the scheduler at that time so we may be ready to accommodate them.

The ultrasound department will call you one business day prior to your child’s appointment to review the preparation instructions and confirm your appointment. If you have not received a call by 6pm the day before the test, please call 253-792-6220.

Your child should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to the exam. Feel free to bring a favorite toy, blanket, pacifier or a bottle to the exam. You will be able to stay with your child throughout the exam. It is strongly encouraged that siblings and extra family members do not accompany you to the exam.

Plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to the scheduled exam and check in with the main Information Desk at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital at the main building entrance.

During the Exam

Most ultrasound examinations take 30-60 minutes. The ultrasound test does not hurt and the sound waves will not harm your child. The sonographer will prepare your child’s skin by applying warm gel over the area that will be examined. The exam room will have low lighting so the sonographer can see the computer screen clearly.

During an ultrasound examination, a small hand-held wand, called a transducer, is placed over the part of your child’s body being examined. There may be a feeling of some pressure as the transducer wand is held against your child’s skin.

Your child will lie comfortably on a bed. If your child is very young you may assist with the exam by lying on the bed with your child and helping him or her relax by using soothing sounds, facial expressions and lullabies.

When the exam is complete, the gel is wiped off, and you and your child may need to wait for a few minutes while the ultrasound images are reviewed.

After the Exam

After the ultrasound examination is done, your child may return to regular daily activities and meals. The images from the exam will be reviewed by a radiologist, and the results will be sent to your child’s doctor. Please contact your child’s doctor for follow-up information and to discuss any questions you may have.

Location and Parking

 Mary Bridge Children's Hospital
317 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Tacoma, WA 98405

On the day of the CT scan, you may park for free in the Baker Center Parking Garage. Please be sure to bring your parking ticket in with you to the appointment for validation.

Valet Parking is available for $3.00 at the main hospital entrance on Martin Luther King Jr Way or the Philip Pavilion entrance on S 5th Street.