Pediatric Ultrasound

Pediatric UltrasoundAt UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test, and we invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the test and how you can help.

Fast Facts About the Pediatric Ultrasound

  • An ultrasound gives pictures of the inside of your child’s body using sound waves made by the ultrasound machine.
  • Your child will be awake at all times.
  • Each exam is different according to body part and what is ordered. The Technologist can help by estimating the length of time your exam will take.
  • Your child can resume normal diet and activities afterward.

What Is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a picture taken with sound waves of the tissues and organs inside your child’s body.

  • Ultrasounds do not hurt.
  • Ultrasounds give doctors valuable information about certain areas inside your child’s body that they cannot learn from a physical examination.
  • The length of time needed to do each ultrasound varies depending on the kind of ultrasound that has been ordered for your child.

Home Preparation

  • Depending on the kind of ultrasound that your child is having, there may be important instructions on things to do or not do the day before and the day of your child's ultrasound. Please follow the specific instructions that are given to you by the Department of Pediatric Radiology staff.
  • If you have any questions regarding these requirements, please contact the Department of Pediatric Radiology.
  • You may bring along a “comfort” item—such as a favorite stuffed animal or “blankie”—for your child to hold during the test.

The Test

Ultrasounds are done at the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s Hospital. In the room will be an ultrasound technologist who is experienced in taking ultrasounds of children. You will see a bed and the ultrasound machine with a type of wand attached. You might explain to your child that the wand is a small camera for taking pictures of inside his or her body and that he or she will be able to watch the ultrasound pictures as they are being taken on the computer screen. If your child has any questions, the ultrasound technologist will be happy to answer them before the test.

Depending on the kind of ultrasound your child is having, he or she may be asked to either remove, pull up, or pull-down pieces of his or her clothing. When your child is ready, the test will begin.

  • Your child will be awake during this test.
  • Your child will be asked to lie down on the bed.
  • The ultrasound technologist will place warm scanning gel or lotion on the wand or on your child’s skin.
  • The ultrasound technologist will place a towel around the area of your child’s body that is being examined to keep your child’s clothing clean from the gel being used.
  • The ultrasound technologist will place the wand on the area of your child’s body that is being examined and move it around to take the pictures.
  • Your child will be asked to lie very still while the ultrasound is being taken.
  • When all the ultrasound pictures have been taken, the ultrasound technologist will wipe off any gel on your child’s body.

A Parent’s/Guardian’s Role During the Test

We welcome your help and support during this test. Two parents or guardians are invited to join your child in the examination room. Other adults and children must wait in the waiting room.

The ultrasound technologist will show you where to sit or stand in the examination room during the test. Please follow the instructions of the medical staff performing the test.

  • The most vital role of a parent and guardian during the test is to help your child stay calm and relaxed. The best way to help your child stay calm is for you to stay calm.
  • It is important that your child remains still when the ultrasound pictures are being taken.
  • We encourage you to talk to your child and hold his or her hand.
  • Please do not use cell phones or and video recording devices.
  • Please keep the environment calm and relaxing for the most optimal study.

After the Test

When the ultrasound technologist has taken all the pictures needed and wiped the gel off of your child, he or she will check with a pediatric radiology doctor to make sure the pictures are clear, which takes only a few minutes. The doctor will often come into the room to help the technologist take additional pictures. When the ultrasound technologist and pediatric radiology doctor are satisfied with the pictures, the ultrasound is finished.

  • No special follow-up care for your child is necessary.
  • After the test, your child can return to normal activities and resume a normal diet.
  • A pediatric radiology doctor will review your child’s ultrasound. A report of your child’s ultrasound will be sent to the doctor who prescribed it, usually within 48 hours. If the results are urgent, the referring doctor will be contacted immediately. 
  • Please contact the doctor who prescribed the test for the results. 
  • If you have any other questions or concerns about the test, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology and an ultrasound technologist will discuss them with you.

Special Needs and Patient Preparation

If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s before your child’s ultrasound and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs.


  • Radiology & Imaging Services

    UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
    4401 Penn Avenue
    Floor 2
    Pittsburgh, PA 15224