Ultrasound Preparation and Exams

Abdominal/Retroperitoneal Sonography

Abdominal and Retroperitoneal Sonography is the use of “sound waves” to record images of abdominal structures. These examinations lasts approximately 30 minutes.

On the day before the examination:

  • Do not eat or drink anything, chew gum, or smoke after midnight.

On the day of the examination:

  • Generally you are not allowed anything by mouth until your exam is completed.
  • Essential medications are allowed with a small amount of water. Feel free to bring any medication with you to take immediately after the exam.
  • Do not eat or drink anything, chew gum, or smoke until after your examination is completed.

Renal Sonogram

Sonography is the use of “sound waves” to record images of the kidneys.

On the day of the examination:

  • Finish drinking 24oz of water 1 hour before your appointment to allow your bladder to fill.
  • Do not empty your bladder after drinking the water until the examination is complete.

Renal/Bladder (Retroperitoneal) Sonogram

Renal Sonography is the use of “sound waves” to record images of the kidneys. The renal sonogram will often be paired with an ultrasound of the urinary bladder. These examinations last approximately 30 minutes.

On the day of the examination:

  • Finish drinking 24oz of water 1 hour before your appointment time.
  • Do not empty your bladder after drinking the water until the examination is completed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If your physician has placed you on fluid restriction, please communicate with them for guidance before completing the water preparation. Retroperitoneal imaging without urinary bladder may be considered.


Prostate Sonography

Prostate sonography is the use of “sound waves” to record images of the prostate.

To image the prostate gland, a transrectal ultrasound exam is performed. This involves the placement of a small ultrasound probe is placed in the rectum. Transrectal imaging of the prostate gland takes approximately 20-30 minutes, or less. If a prostate biopsy is ordered by your physician, tissue samples can also be obtained through this probe.

On the day of the examination:

  • To prepare for transrectal imaging, you will need to purchase a Fleet enema, which you will administer 2 hours prior to your examination.
  • Finish drinking 24oz of water 1 hour before your appointment to allow your bladder to fill.
  • Do not empty your bladder after drinking the water until the examination is complete, and your ultrasound technologists instructs you to do so.

Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy of the Prostate

If you are scheduled for a prostate biopsy, you will need a prescription from your physician for an antibiotic (6 Cipro tablets, 500 mg). This is to prevent infection.

On the day before the examination:

  • Take one Cipro tablet at 8:00 a.m. and one at 8:00 p.m.

On the day of the examination:

  • Take one Cipro tablet at 8:00 a.m.
  • Administer Fleet enema 2 hours prior to your examination.
  • Drink 24oz of water 1 hour prior to the appointment. Do not empty bladder until instructed to do so by the ultrasound technologist.
  • Prostate biopsy is considered a minor surgical procedure, therefore you will need to bring someone with you to drive you home. We cannot release patients who are driving themselves.

If biopsy was performed:

  • Follow all other instructions given to you after the biopsy.
  • Take one Cipro tablet at 8:00 p.m. the evening of the biopsy.
  • Take one Cipro tablet at 8:00 a.m. the day following the biopsy.
  • Take one Cipro tablet at 8:00 p.m. the day following the biopsy.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are on blood thinning medications, aspirin therapy, or have any bleeding disorders, please notify us at the time of scheduling. Special arrangements will need to be made. 


Pelvic Sonography

Pelvic Sonography is the use of “sound waves” to record images of the bladder, uterus, and ovaries. This examination of the pelvic anatomy lasts approximately 30 minutes.

On the day of the examination:

  • Finish drinking 32oz of water 1 hour before your appointment to allow your bladder to fill.
  • Do not empty your bladder after drinking the water until the examination is completed, or you may need to reschedule.
  • Your bladder must be full in order to do the examination. You will be able to empty your bladder when the examination is complete.

Obstetrical Sonography

Obstetrical Sonography is the use of “sound waves” to record images of a baby (embryo or fetus) and reproductive organs within a pregnant woman. This examination lasts approximately 30-60 minutes.

On the day of the examination for patients up to 22 weeks pregnant:

  • For patients less than 14 weeks pregnant, start drinking 32oz of water 1½-2 hours before your appointment time. Finish drinking the 32oz of water 1 hour before your appointment to allow your bladder to fill.
  • Patients 14 – 22 weeks pregnant should finish drinking only 16oz of water 1 hour before your appointment.
  • Do not empty your bladder after drinking the water until the examination is completed, or you may need to reschedule.
  • Your bladder must be full in order to do the examination. You will be able to empty your bladder when the examination is completed.

On the day of the examination for patients more than 22 weeks pregnant:

  • No preparation is required for patients more than 22 weeks pregnant.
  • You do not need to have a full bladder at this stage of pregnancy.

Multiple Births- Please inform the scheduling department if you are aware that you are carrying twins, triplets, etc. as the examination time will be longer.

COVID-19 Update

The Governors of Maryland and Virginia have closed all non-essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Radiology centers have been classified as essential services. 

The health, well-being, and safety of our patients and staff is our top priority. We are committed to helping stop the spread of COVID-19. We have taken steps to continue providing only critical service required to meet the needs of the community.  After very careful consideration we have decided to reschedule all non-urgent imaging appointments as well as consolidate our services by adjusting hours and center openings. To protect everyone, we are closely following the guidance of local, national and global health authorities – including the CDC – in addressing current challenges. As circumstances continue to change, we will keep you informed.

As the situation continues to develop in our community, we want to maintain our ability to provide quality service while safeguarding the health and safety of our patients and staff. We realize these are tenuous times and we are actively monitoring the ongoing situation and following the latest available CDC guidelines. In an effort to limit the risk of exposure for our patients and our employees who may be in high-risk categories, we are asking that you:

Please do not go to a Fairfax Radiology Center/Radiology Imaging Associates location if ANY of the following apply:

    1. You have cough, fever, or shortness of breath
    2. You have traveled by airplane or to New York City in the past 14 days or less
    3. You have had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who is undergoing a test (results pending) for COVID-19.

Instead, please contact your physician for instructions. Patients may call to reschedule their appointment once they are symptom and fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours without the use of medication.

Trusted and Credible Resources for Coronavirus COVID-19 Updates:

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