Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Ultrasound


Test Overview

An ultrasound is a type of imaging test that uses sound waves. It takes pictures of the organs and other structures in your body. It can be used in different areas such as the belly, the pelvis, or the arms and legs.

During the test, a small, handheld device called a transducer is gently passed back and forth over the area being looked at. The device sends the sound waves to a computer, which turns them into a picture. This picture is shown on a video screen. The picture produced by ultrasound is called a sonogram, an echogram, or a scan. Pictures or videos of the ultrasound images may be saved and reviewed later.

Why It Is Done

Why It Is Done

An ultrasound is done for several reasons. It may be used to look for a blocked blood vessel. It may be used to find the cause of pain in your belly or another part of your body. Or it can be used to look for a cyst, tumor, or abscess that may need treatment. It may also be used to help guide the placement of a needle or other tool during a biopsy.

How to Prepare

How to Prepare

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to. Depending on what is being looked at, you may get special instructions such as when you can eat or drink.

How It Is Done

How It Is Done

This test is done in an ultrasound room in a hospital, clinic, or doctor's office.

  • Gel is applied to the skin to help the sound waves pass through.
  • The transducer will be pressed against the gel on your skin. It will be moved across your skin several times.
  • You need to be very still while the test is being done.

How long the test takes

Depending on what is being looked at, the test will take about 15 to 60 minutes.

How It Feels

How It Feels

This test usually doesn't cause any pain or discomfort. The gel may feel cold when it is first put on your skin. And you may feel light pressure from the transducer as it passes over the area being looked at.



There are no known risks from having this test.



The scans from the test will be read within a short time.



The organs, tissues, and vessels are normal in size, shape, and structure.

No growths, tumors, fluid, or other problems are seen.

No signs of disease, inflammation, or infection are seen.

Blood vessels and blood flow are normal. No blood clots are seen.


The organs, tissues, and vessels may be abnormal in size, shape, or structure.

Growths, tumors, or fluid may be seen.

Signs of disease, inflammation, or infection may be seen.

Blockages in blood vessels, changes in blood flow, or blood clots may be seen.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna


Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

The Cigna Group Information

About Cigna Healthcare Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers The Cigna Group Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap Cookie Settings


Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details