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How Long Do Ultrasound Results Take?

Can I See My Ultrasound Results Online Women Getting a Renal Ultrasound

Wondering how quickly you can see your ultrasound results online? With PocketHealth, your health records are at your fingertips.

In Canada and the U.S., you have the right to access your health information contained in medical or health records. Having access to your medical records, including your ultrasound scan results, allows you to advocate for your own health and treatment while also relieving ‘scanxiety’, or the stress of waiting for medical results. A 2023 Leger study revealed more than half of patients experience ‘scanxiety’ when waiting on medical results.

Quick access to your ultrasound scan results gives you the freedom to take control of your health and share your results with any care provider you choose, making it easy to get a second opinion and compare medical images over time. With PocketHealth you can often view your ultrasound scan images and written report before your follow-up appointment. Access your records here.

Knowing where to access and how to understand your results helps you have more informative conversations with your referring practitioner. This article breaks down:

  • How an ultrasound works
  • How long it takes to get your results
  • The benefits of having access to your images and reports
  • What your online results might show

How does an ultrasound work?

An important diagnostic imaging test, ultrasound scans help your practitioner visualize soft tissue structures, including organs or blood vessels, to understand shape, development or irregularities better. Ultrasound machines use high-frequency sound waves to capture internal images of the body.

During your scan, an ultrasound technician will use a transducer, also called an ultrasound probe, to capture images from inside your body. After applying a clear gel to your skin, the technician will move the transducer over whatever organ or body part is being examined, sending sound waves into the area. Some sound waves bounce back, which the transducer collects and sends to a computer, compiling them into images.

Unlike X-rays, an ultrasound machine doesn’t use ionizing radiation, so they’re considered a safer alternative for monitoring fetal development during pregnancy.

How long does it take to receive ultrasound results?

After your ultrasound scan, a radiologist will analyze the images and create a written report detailing what they see. The hospital imaging department or imaging clinic then sends your report to your referring healthcare provider, who will discuss the results with you during a follow-up appointment.

Although, on average, it can take up to a week to receive your results, how long you wait depends on different factors, including:

  • Urgency. If your ultrasound is to explore a sudden injury or an unexpected symptom, you may be sent for a scan quickly, and your doctor will request the results right away.
  • Complexity. Complex injuries or illnesses may require more than one radiologist to review the results or repeat imaging. This can slow down the time it takes your doctor to receive your results and schedule a follow-up appointment.
  • More information required. Your doctor may send you for another appointment if the radiologist requests more information than your initial imaging can provide. This can delay how soon you’re able to attend your follow-up appointment to discuss the results.
  • Comparing with previous scans. If your doctor is monitoring a chronic injury or illness, the radiologist will likely want to see any previous imaging you’ve received to compare the results. If you don’t have your previous pictures available online or haven’t used the same clinic for past scans, it may take some time to get all your imaging to the radiologist and delay your follow-up appointment.
  • Mode of transmission. How quickly the radiologist sends your results to your referring physician impacts how soon you’ll have your follow-up appointment to discuss your results. Clinics may send your results by email or fax, which can sometimes delay how quickly your doctor receives the results.

If you are pregnant, your OB-GYN or midwife will send you for regular, scheduled ultrasounds to track the growth of the baby and monitor how your body is responding. These appointments will be booked ahead of time, and you will typically attend a follow-up appointment or receive a call about your results. In some cases, you may attend many pregnancy ultrasound appointments in a short period of time, depending on the trimester of pregnancy you’re in.

5 benefits of having access to your ultrasound scan results

Access to your results can take some time, and it can be nerve-wracking waiting for your physician to share your results at a follow-up appointment. PocketHealth helps you take control of your healthcare journey once your report is complete, by giving you fast, easy and secure access to your results as they are released by the hospital imaging department or imaging clinic.

Here are 5 ways PocketHealth helps make sure you are a partner, not a passenger, in your own care:

  • You get faster, easier access. PocketHealth allows you to see your images and reports the moment the radiologist releases them, and you can view them from any device. No need to wait for your follow-up doctor’s appointment.
  • You can share your results. If you want to keep your entire healthcare team up to date or need a second opinion, you can email, print or fax a secure access page to another practitioner from your account. And that practitioner doesn’t need a PocketHealth account to view your images online in full, diagnostic quality.
  • You can ask more informed questions. Your report might contain complex medical terms you’re unfamiliar with. With PocketHealth Report Reader, you can easily understand what those terms mean, allowing you to have more informed conversations with your practitioner during a follow-up appointment.
  • You’ll never miss a follow-up. A study from the American College of Radiology reports that 60% of medical imaging recommendations are never followed up on. PocketHealth’s MyCare Navigator spotlights any follow-up recommendations, allowing you to be on top of next steps.
  • You own your records. All your records are secured with bank-level encryption technology and will always be centralized in one place for you to access and share. PocketHealth secure storage helps you avoid requesting records in writing, which can take 30-60 days and may require a fee.

With access to your imaging and report, PocketHealth enables you to arrive at your next doctor’s appointment feeling informed and ready to participate in your healthcare journey.

What will my online ultrasound results show?

The results of your ultrasound scan will help your doctor diagnose conditions and offer a treatment plan.

The radiologist who reviews your test results will make notes on your report about what they see in your ultrasound images. Your doctor will use these notes to help their diagnosis.

Whether you have a kidney, liver, stomach, gallbladder, breast, heart or abdominal ultrasound exam, among others, sometimes additional testing is required.

Your doctor may send you for a transvaginal ultrasound or a transrectal ultrasound, to more clearly view the internal organs in those areas. Or other tests, like a CT scan, MRI or X-ray, may be ordered to assist your doctor in making a more complicated diagnosis.

Understanding density and how it appears on an ultrasound

Depending on the density and amount of liquid in the area of your body being explored, your images will appear in shades of black, gray or white.

Areas that contain a lot of fluid or liquid, like cysts or amniotic fluid in a pregnant woman’s uterus, will appear black, while tissue that contains less fluid will appear gray. Very dense tissue and bone will appear white. Understanding how dense certain tissue is allows the radiologist to determine whether there are any irregularities in your images.

Who has access to my ultrasound results?

Your ultrasound results may be available to many different parties, depending on your case. Here’s a list of individuals and other parties who may have access to your ultrasound results:

  • You. Patients are legally allowed access to their own medical records, including imaging and reports in Canada and the U.S. You can gain access to your medical records through some patient portals or via secure online platforms like PocketHealth.
  • The ultrasound technologist. Your ultrasound will be conducted by a trained technologist, who will capture the images during your procedure before sending them to the radiologist. Can the ultrasound technologist share your results? No, but they can give you information about the exam procedure.
  • The radiologist. The clinic or hospital where you get your ultrasound will have radiologists on staff to closely review your imaging and create a report based on what they see. This report is sent directly to your referring physician or midwife. You can get access as soon as the report is released using PocketHealth.
  • Your primary care provider (often a referring physician or midwife). The hospital imaging department or imaging clinic will send your ultrasound images and report to your primary care provider, who will review the results and discuss them with you at a follow-up appointment.
  • Parent or legal guardian. In cases where a minor requires an ultrasound, a parent or legal guardian will have access to their medical reports to facilitate medical care and treatment.
  • Advocate or caregiver. In cases where a patient cannot sign a consent form to receive their medical records, their advocate or caregiver will receive the records on their behalf.
  • Insurance companies. When an ultrasound is required to assess the details of an injury or treatment requiring insurance coverage, an insurance company has the right to review medical imaging and reports.
  • Care facilities. Nurses and staff at long-term care facilities can view the records of patients who require specialized care. Treatment is often ongoing, and staff need up-to-date medical records to provide the best care.
  • Rehabilitation centers. Patients who visit a rehabilitation center may require medical treatment during their stay, and attendant doctors or nurses can view their records to ensure they provide the best care.
  • Hospitals and labs. These facilities often need to review current and prior medical records, including ultrasound imaging and reports, to make sure they can provide the appropriate treatment and recommendations.

Use PocketHealth to better advocate for your health

Waiting for your results can be stressful, but having secure access to your images and reports using PocketHealth allows you to better understand your results ahead of your next appointment. This means you can prepare more informed questions and have an in-depth discussion about any next steps in your healthcare journey.

PocketHealth’s Report Reader can help you further understand complex medical terms in your report, by providing clear definitions. For a more personalized experience, MyCare Navigator tracks your recommended follow-ups and provides a list of questions to discuss with your doctor based on your report results, helping you be an even more active participant in your care.

How PocketHealth works

Learn how to use PocketHealth to securely access, better understand and share your ultrasound records.

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