Ultrasound

An ultrasound scan is a medical test that uses high-frequency sound waves to capture live images of inside the body. Unlike other imaging techniques, such as X-rays, ultrasounds do not use radiation.

Watch the video below to find out more about what it’s like to have an ultrasound at the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Why does my child need an ultrasound?

An ultrasound may be needed if your child is experiencing pain, swelling, or other symptoms. Being able to see an internal view of their organs, using the ultrasound machine, will help us find out what’s causing this.

Coming to the hospital for your child’s appointment

On the day or your child’s ultrasound, please arrive at the Medical Imaging Department at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. To make sure you are on time, it’s important to consider the time needed to arrive at the hospital and find a park if you are driving. If you are running more than 15 minutes late, please call us on 07 3068 3100.

If you are running extremely late, or aren’t correctly prepared for your child’s appointment, we may need to reschedule it.

What to bring

Before you leave for your child’s ultrasound appointment, please make sure you have their original referral/request form with you. You will need this once you arrive at the hospital. It is also a good idea to bring one of your child’s favourite toys, a blanket and/or a gaming/smart device. This can help keep them distracted while they are having their ultrasound.

What to expect

If your child is having an ultrasound on their abdomen, they will need to fast beforehand. Fasting means that they will have to stop eating and/or drinking completely, except for water. The amount of time your child needs to fast for will depend on their age.

Under two years

  • Two hours before appointment – withhold the feed that would normally be given during this time.
  • For very young babies, please bring a bottle/feed for them to have straight after their scan.

Two – six years

  • Four hours before appointment – start fasting (no food or drink except water).
  • Please bring a bottle and/or snack for your child to eat after their scan.

Over six years

  • Six hours before appointment – start fasting (no food or drink except water).
  • Please bring a snack for your child to eat after their scan.
If your child is having a pelvis, or renal ultrasound (i.e. the scan is looking at their kidney and/or bladder), their bladder will need to be full. This gives a clearer scan image on the screen which allows your ultrasound technician to make the best decision about your child’s care and treatment.

After your child has followed the drinking instructions below for their age group, please try to get them to go to the toilet to empty their bladder after the ultrasound. For younger children and babies, we understand this will not be possible, but it is important for them to be hydrated for the study nonetheless.

Under 2 years

  • 30 minutes before appointment – give a feed.
  • For young babies, please bring a bottle to help settle them during their scan.

2 – 6 years

  • Drink 250ml (1 glass) of water/clear fluid 30 minutes prior to the appointment.

6 – 12 years

  • Drink 500ml (2 glasses) of water/clear fluid 1 hour prior to the appointment.

Over 12 years

  • Drink 750ml (3 glasses) of water/clear fluid 1 hour prior to the appointment.
If your child is having an abdomen and pelvis ultrasound done together during the same appointment, their bladder will need to be full. This gives a clearer scan image on the screen which allows your ultrasound technician to make the best decision about your child’s care and treatment.

After your child has followed the drinking instructions below for their age group, please try to get them to go to the toilet to empty their bladder after the ultrasound. For younger children and babies, we understand this will not be possible, but it is important for them to be hydrated for the study nonetheless.

Under 2 years

  • 2 hours before appointment – withhold the feed that would normally be given during this time.
  • For young babies, please bring a bottle to help settle them during their scan.

2 – 6 years

  • Fast for 4 hours prior to the appointment and drink 250ml (1 glass) of water/clear fluid 30 minutes prior to the appointment.
  • Please bring a bottle and/or snack for your child to eat after their scan.

6 – 12 years

  • Fast for 6 hours prior to the appointment and drink 500ml (2 glasses) of water/clear fluid one hour prior to the appointment.
  • Please bring a bottle and/or snack for your child to eat after their scan.

Over 12 years

  • Fast for 6 hours prior to the appointment and drink 750ml (3 glasses) of water/clear fluid 1 hour prior to the appointment.
  • Please bring a snack for your child to eat after their scan.
Please bring a bottle of milk or water for your baby to drink during their scan.

Important things to remember

  • If your child has any special nutritional requirements, please contact us before their scheduled appointment as we may need to make changes to the ultrasound preparation process.
  • During hot weather, children may dehydrate quickly. Do not withhold water, even if your child is fasting.
  • If you are breastfeeding and need a private area to feed your baby, please ask our friendly reception staff.

This service is available at

Medical Imaging and Nuclear Medicine (1a)
Queensland Children’s Hospital

Level 1
501 Stanley Street
South Brisbane
QLD 4101
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Contact details

t: 07 3068 3100  |  07 3068 1111 (after hours via hospital switchboard)

Operating hours

Monday to Friday, 8am–5pm.