Gelly Belly – The Role of Ultrasound Gel

What’s the purpose of ultrasound gel?

ultrasound gel

Ah . . . that amazing blue stuff–sometimes shockingly cold, oftentimes warm (if they’re nice and keep it in an electric warmer!). If you’ve ever had a sonogram, you know it’s pretty messy. Moms usually hate it, but we sonographers just can’t live without it!

The best I’ve used for most of my career, pictured above, is Aquasonic 100 made by Parker Laboratories. It provides the perfect viscosity. In other words, it doesn’t run down the side of your belly when we squirt it. Ultrasound gel is made up mostly of water, gets everywhere, and feels tacky until it dries. However, no one can have an ultrasound without it!

Why do we use it?

The role of gel is two-fold. Most importantly, it’s acoustic transmission gel. This means it helps to conduct the sound waves. No gel, no view! Ultrasound cannot travel through air or gas. Without the gel, there exists a bit of air between the probe and skin which produces no image on the monitor.

Second, it allows the probe to move smoothly over Mom’s belly. Some wonder why we use so much. If we used it sparingly, it would dry out. The probe won’t glide over your skin, and the dried gel forms little balls of stickiness. Gross. Better to use a bunch and extra tissue to wipe it off after!

I performed this little experiment one time for a patient who asked, much to her amazement. It’s really cool, actually . . . touch the probe to the skin with no gel and all you see is black. Add a little gel and Voila’! Baby.

So, there you go. Another lesson in Ultrasound 101.

Have a great day and a healthy pregnancy 🙂

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