Ultrasound Direct Frequently Asked Questions

If you can’t find the answer to your question here, get in touch with your local clinic or contact us.

General FAQs

On rare occasions we are unable to complete the primary purpose of a scan. For pregnancy scans, this may be due to your baby being in a difficult position, or something else such as overlying bowel gas which can obscure the ultrasound image. If this happens, we’ll book you a free of charge rescan so we can try again! The primary purpose is outlined on each scan webpage.

As healthcare professionals the health and wellbeing of you and your baby is our priority. There may be occasions when we need to discuss unexpected findings or bad news. If this happens during your scan, our team will ensure you receive the best possible compassionate care delivered to you as sensitively as possible.  

We will also recommend your next steps. With your consent, we can contact the local early pregnancy unit or midwife on your behalf where possible. For general health scans, we can email our report and supporting images to your GP.  

If after your scan you become concerned about the scan itself or your images and video clips, just call the clinic where you had your scan to discuss any concerns. If the clinic is closed, contact our head office who will be more than happy to help with your query.

Absolutely! Every scan at Ultrasound Direct is performed by a fully qualified sonographer whose primary interest is your health. All our sonographers are fully trained and appropriately qualified to perform ultrasound scans. Many of our team also work in the NHS locally.

All our sonographers are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council and/or the Register of Clinical Technologists and follow the latest safety guidelines.

We are also registered with the Care Quality Commission, an independent regulator, to make sure you always receive the highest possible standards of care. 

All our sonographers who take blood for blood tests are phlebotomy trained.

No, you can book your ultrasound directly without any sort of referral. If you have any concerns about your health, it can be useful to have scan results ready to discuss with your GP to reduce any waiting times. An ultrasound scan appointment with us can typically be booked quickly and allows enough time to ask questions too.

We will give you same day results in a clear written report with supporting images.  Your scan report will advise you if any

further steps are necessary. And if we recommend a medical follow-up with your healthcare provider, we can securely email them a copy of your report at no extra cost.

Your GP can refer you to Ultrasound Direct for a scan via our booking system.

An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of inside of the body. The sound waves reflect off different areas in the body and are converted into a moving picture to show what’s happening in real-time.

An ultrasound scan can be external, which is when a probe is placed on the skin of the body part. Scans can also be internal, when a probe is inserted into the body. Both types of scan produce the same type of image and mini clip.

Research suggests that there are no known risks to our method of ultrasound scanning. Scans are painless (although an internal scan may be slightly uncomfortable) and have no known side effects. Ultrasound scans do not use any form of ionising radiation, unlike other diagnostic imaging services such as x-rays.

We follow the British Medical Ultrasound Society’s guidance for the safe use of diagnostic ultrasound equipment.

During pregnancy scans, we can record your baby’s pulsebeat – this sounds very similar to the heartbeat, but is recorded in a different way. We record the pulsebeat by scanning blood flow through the umbilical cord, rather than recording the heartbeat by scanning the heart. This is because consistent ultrasound output in one place can have a heating effect, and we don’t want to put your baby at any level of risk. The fast-moving blood in the umbilical cord quickly disperses any potential heating effect.

We recommend that you telephone the clinic using the number on your email confirmation as soon as possible and we will do our best to accommodate you. Our clinics are busy, and lateness does impact those who are waiting to be seen after your appointment. It may not always be possible for us to see you on the day, but we will do our best in these circumstances. 

We recommend that you leave in plenty of time and check traffic prior to setting off for your journey.

On occasion the clinic might be running late due to unforeseen circumstances. We understand that this can cause stress and anxiety. Our staff will keep you informed if a clinic is running late and this will be done as soon as possible.

Yes, it’s a good idea to bring your hospital notes with you if you have them. If your notes are online, make sure you can access them on your mobile device. Our sonographers then have access to them if we need to make an onward referral into the NHS.

If you don’t have any notes yet, you can still book a scan.

No, we will only discuss your scan appointments or results directly with you. With your consent, we can send a copy of your report and images to your preferred healthcare professional.

Any feedback about your experience with Ultrasound Direct can be sent directly via email to feedback@ultrasound-direct.com.

No, there is no upper weight limit that will prevent you from having an ultrasound scan. However, the image quality is negatively affected by an increased body mass index (BMI). This means that weight could contribute to difficulty securing clear images. Our sonographers will always do their best to get clear results. If we are unable to obtain clear images due to an increased BMI, our report will include a recommendation for an alternative imaging method (such as CT or MRI).

Pregnancy FAQs

The appointment time listed for each scan includes everything that happens at your appointment. You’ll arrive at reception and be greeted by our friendly clinic team, then go in for your scan with the sonographer. The actual scan time will vary in length, as it depends on what baby is doing and the primary purpose of the scan. We scan according to the ‘As Low As Reasonably Achievable’ principle, which means we aim to expose you and your baby to ultrasound as little as possible – this is guidance defined by our professional bodies and is the responsible way to provide ultrasound scans. We’ll make sure we scan for as long as we can to complete the primary purpose of the scan and make you feel like you’ve had a chance to really bond with baby. You’ll also be able to ask the sonographer any questions you might have before leaving the clinic with your images.

Most of our clinics allow children, but it does depend on the clinic and scan type. If you’re not sure, contact the clinic to check before your appointment. You can bring up to 5 guests (including children) to most scans. Just remember that children need to be kept calm, quiet and under control so you can enjoy your scan.

At your Dating, NIPT, Anomaly, Growth, Presentation or Gender Scan you can choose to view your baby in 4D at no extra charge if you are more than 12 weeks pregnant with our 4D Freeview option. You can also receive thermal black and white 3D scan prints to take home. Your 4D Freeview is a free add-on – as it’s not the primary purpose of the scan, we will not offer a rescan if baby is not in a suitable position to view in 4D.

Any pregnancy scans referred to as ‘non-diagnostic’ should be avoided. This term suggests that:

  • the ultrasound equipment, which is designed to be diagnostic, is not being used in accordance with manufacturer's guidelines
  • the person operating it may not be a healthcare professional or following their duty of care requirements (such as ignoring any incidental findings)
  • the person operating it may not be professionally insured and could be ignoring the fundamental safety guidelines set out by the British Medical Ultrasound Society and Society of Radiographers

Our pregnancy scans include a wellbeing check of baby, and all our scans (including general health) are carried out by fully qualified sonographers who will act upon their duty of care with incidental findings and can write diagnostic clinical reports.

Our ultrasound systems are sourced through official channels and are set up and operated according to the manufacturer's guidelines. We also have ongoing contact with the manufacturer and their representatives who regularly visit our clinics and provide ongoing machine support.

If you are at an early stage of pregnancy, we recommend that you attend with a full or virtually full bladder. This can make it easier for the sonographer to obtain clearer images of your little one. 

For all pregnancy scans, we recommended that you eat something substantial around 30 minutes before your appointment and have 500ml of cold water or pure orange juice (provided you do not have any form of diabetes) around the same time. Recent research has suggested that carbohydrates such as bread or pasta can make a baby more active.

We understand that dates can sometimes be confusing and not always easy to work out, but we can only offer our Early Scan appointments from 6 weeks.  This is because at 6 weeks we should be able to see your baby’s heartbeat (typically with an internal ultrasound scan). If you are less than 6 weeks pregnant, it is unlikely we will see a heartbeat. This will not only cause confusion and upset for you, but it could mean that we need to make a referral into the NHS.  We recommend that you consider this when booking your Early Scan appointment.

If you are experiencing pain or bleeding, go directly to your local A&E or contact your midwife – do not book an ultrasound scan. This is because you may be experiencing a medical emergency and waiting for a scan will cause a potentially harmful delay.

Health Scan FAQs

Your booking confirmation email will contain information about how to prepare for your specific scan. Each scan webpage also outlines how you need to prepare.

For an Upper Abdominal Scan, you need to fast for 6 hours before your scan and drink only clear fluids. If you are diabetic we suggest you book an early morning appointment and have a single slice of toast (no butter) about 2 hours before your appointment. You can maintain any normal medication.

For a Kidney, Ureters and Bladder Scan, a Prostate Scan or and Pelvic Scan, please arrive with a full bladder.