Pelvic ultrasound procedure

Pelvic ultrasound procedure



How do I prepare for a pelvic ultrasound?

What happens during a pelvic ultrasound?

What does a pelvic ultrasound show?

What are the risks of a pelvic ultrasound?

What do the results show?

Does a pelvic ultrasound hurt?

Do I need to shave for a pelvic ultrasound?

How long does a pelvic ultrasound take?

How much water do you need to drink for a pelvic ultrasound?


What is a pelvic ultrasound?

(Ultrasound-Pelvis, Pelvic Ultrasonography, Pelvic Sonography, Pelvic Scan, Lower Abdomen Ultrasound, Gynecologic Ultrasound, Transabdominal Ultrasound, Transvaginal Ultrasound, Endovaginal Ultrasound)

A pelvic ultrasound is a noninvasive diagnostic exam that produces images that are used to assess organs and structures within the female pelvis. A pelvic ultrasound allows quick visualization of the female pelvic organs and structures including the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Ultrasound uses a transducer that sends out ultrasound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. The ultrasound transducer is placed on the skin, and the ultrasound waves move through the body to the organs and structures within. The sound waves bounce off the organs like an echo and return to the transducer. The transducer processes the reflected waves, which are then converted by a computer into an image of the organs or tissues being examined.

The sound waves travel at different speeds depending on the type of tissue encountered - fastest through bone tissue and slowest through air. The speed at which the sound waves are returned to the transducer, as well as how much of the sound wave returns, is translated by the transducer as different types of tissue.

An ultrasound gel is placed on the transducer and the skin to allow for smooth movement of the transducer over the skin and to eliminate air between the skin and the transducer for the best sound conduction.

Another type of ultrasound is Doppler ultrasound, sometimes called a duplex study, used to show the speed and direction of blood flow in certain pelvic organs. Unlike a standard ultrasound, some sound waves during the Doppler exam are audible.


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pelvic ultrasound may be performed using one or both of 2 methods:


Transabdominal (through the abdomen).




A procedure used to examine the organs in the abdomen. An ultrasound transducer (probe) is pressed firmly against the skin of the abdomen. ... The ultrasound transducer bounces sound waves off internal organs and tissues to make echoes that form a sonogram (computer picture).



Transvaginal (through the vagina).

“Transvaginal” means “through the vagina.” ... Unlike a regular abdominal or pelvic ultrasound, where the ultrasound wand (transducer) rests on the outside of the pelvis, this procedure involves your doctor or a technician inserting an ultrasound probe about 2 or 3 inches into your vaginal canal.




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How do pelvic ultrasounds work?

Ultrasounds work by using a tool called a transducer. A transducer sends (or directs) sound waves through your skin and tissues to your organs. These sound waves then spring off your organs like an echo, traveling back to the transducer. (Because these sound waves are so high, human ears can’t hear them).

The transducer detects these reflected waves, which help form a picture of your organs.

During your ultrasound, an ultrasound technician will put a clear gel on your skin. The gel will help your technician smoothly move the transducer over your skin. The gel also makes it easier to conduct sound waves.



How do I prepare for a pelvic ultrasound?

Eat/drink: Drink a minimum of 24 ounces of clear fluid at least one hour before your appointment. Do not empty your bladder until after the exam.

Generally, no fasting or sedation is required for a pelvic ultrasound, unless the ultrasound is part of another procedure that requires anesthesia.

For a transvaginal ultrasound, you should empty your bladder right before the procedure.

Your doctor will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.



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What happens during a pelvic ultrasound?

A pelvic ultrasound may be performed in your doctor’s office, on an outpatient basis, or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your hospital’s practices.

Generally, a pelvic ultrasound follows this process:

For a transabdominal ultrasound

You will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that may interfere with the scan.

If asked to remove clothing, you will be given a gown to wear.

You will lie on your back on an examination table.

A gel-like substance will be applied to your abdomen.

The transducer will be pressed against the skin and moved around over the area being studied.

If blood flow is being assessed, you may hear a "whoosh, whoosh" sound when the Doppler probe is used.

Images of structures will be displayed on the computer screen. Images will be recorded on various media for the health care record.

Once the procedure has been completed, the gel will be removed.

You may empty your bladder when the procedure is completed.



After the ultrasound

A radiologist will analyze the ultrasound images and send a report to your doctor. This report will show any problems with your pelvic organs, blood vessels, or unborn baby.

Your doctor will explain the test results to you. Make sure you understand what your results mean, and how they will affect your treatment.



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What does a pelvic ultrasound show?

Sometimes women need pelvic ultrasounds so their doctor can look at or measure their reproductive organs. Doctors can use ultrasounds to see:

the size and shape of your ovaries and uterus and see where they sit inside your body;

the density (or echogenicity) and thickness of your pelvic tissues and organs;

fluids or tissue masses in your bladder, endometrium, fallopian tubes, and uterus muscles (myometrium);

the thickness and length of your cervix;

changes in your bladder’s shape;

and blood flow in your pelvic organs.



What are the risks of a pelvic ultrasound?

There is no radiation used and generally no discomfort from the application of the ultrasound transducer to the skin during a transabdominal ultrasound. You may experience slight discomfort with the insertion of the transvaginal transducer into the vagina.

Transvaginal ultrasound requires covering the ultrasound transducer in a plastic or latex sheath, which may cause a reaction in patients with a latex allergy.

During a transabdominal ultrasound, you may experience discomfort from having a full bladder or lying on the examination table.

If a transabdominal ultrasound is needed quickly, a urinary catheter may be inserted to fill the bladder.

There may be risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to the procedure.

Certain factors or conditions may interfere with the results of the test. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Severe obesity
  • Barium within the intestines from a recent barium procedure
  • Intestinal gas
  • Inadequate filling of bladder (with transabdominal ultrasound). A full bladder helps move the uterus up and moves the bowel away for better imaging.


What do the results show?

You might get your results immediately if your doctor performs the ultrasound. If a technician performs the procedure, the images are saved and then analyzed by a radiologist. The radiologist will send the results to your doctor.

A transvaginal ultrasound helps diagnose multiple conditions, including:

  • cancer of the reproductive organs
  • routine pregnancy
  • cysts
  • fibroids
  • pelvic infection
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • miscarriage
  • placenta previa (a low-lying placenta during pregnancy that may warrant medical intervention)


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Does a pelvic ultrasound hurt?

During transabdominal ultrasounds, most women don't feel any pain or discomfort when the technician moves the transducer across their tummy. But you may be uncomfortable if you have a full bladder. Some women also find laying on the exam table uncomfortable. You may experience some light bleeding or cramping following the procedure. This is because the tissues can become irritated from using the transvaginal ultrasound and from having fluid inserted in the uterus. Most doctors advise taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to relieve discomfort.



Do I need to shave for a pelvic ultrasound?

No special preparation is necessary except removing a tampon if you are using one. Pessaries do not need to be removed. You certainly don’t need to wash or shave in any special way. An OB/GYN’s job involves inspecting places that are private. Some women feel pressure to ensure that everything is perfect before they go. The truth is that your doctor and their staff do not care if you are clean-shaven or not.



How long does a pelvic ultrasound take?

The examination takes between 15–30 minutes. Sometimes you will be asked to wait and have the images checked by the radiologist or obstetrician sonologist (specialist doctors).



How much water do you need to drink for a pelvic ultrasound?

Drink 32 ounces (four glasses) of water one hour before your examination time. You can go to the bathroom to relieve yourself, as long as you keep drinking water.  If you are also having an ultrasound abdomen, please do not eat or drink for 8 hours before your exam. Water and medications are okay.



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10 common questions about Pelvic ultrasound procedure

1How is a pelvic ultrasound done?
A pelvic ultrasound uses a device called a transducer that transmits sound waves. These sound waves bounce off your organs and tissues, and then echo back to the transducer. ... Transabdominal ultrasound is done through your abdomen. You lie on your back on an exam table.
2Does a pelvic ultrasound hurt?
Do Pelvic Ultrasounds Hurt? During transabdominal ultrasounds, most women don't feel any pain or discomfort when the technician moves the transducer across their tummy. ... If you're having a transvaginal ultrasound, you may feel mild pain when the technician inserts the transducer into your vagina
3How long does a pelvic ultrasound take?
about 30 minutes In all pelvic ultrasounds, you will be asked to put on a light hospital gown to make it easy for the technician to access your pelvis. You will lie on your back the entire time unless the technician needs you to turn to get a better picture. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes
4Do I need to shave for a pelvic ultrasound?
Pelvic Ultrasound. ... Pelvic ultrasound is a way to take pictures of the pelvic organs. Your bladder needs to be full before abdominal pelvic ultrasound – drink a lot of water! The procedure isn't painful, but you may be uncomfortable until you can go to the bathroom
5What is a pelvic ultrasound looking for?
A pelvic ultrasound test uses sound waves to make a picture of the inside of the lower belly (pelvis). It allows your doctor to see your bladder, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. The sound waves create a picture on a video monitor
6Can you see ovarian cysts on an ultrasound?
Most ovarian cysts are small sacs, filled with fluid, on your ovaries. ... If your healthcare provider finds an unexpected cyst or enlarged ovary during a pelvic exam, you should have a vaginal ultrasound to assess for cancer. However, many women have follow-up ultrasound exams to make sure that cancer doesn't grow later.
7Can a pelvic ultrasound detect cancer?
Screening Tests Transvaginal Sonography: This ultrasound, performed with a small instrument placed in the vagina, is appropriate, especially for women at high risk for ovarian cancer, or for those with an abnormal pelvic exam.
8Can I have a pelvic ultrasound on my period?
A pelvic ultrasound can be performed at any time during the menstrual cycle. Your referring doctor will let you know if it is more appropriate to have your pelvic ultrasound at a particular time during your cycle. ... The best time to have your pelvic scan is usually just after your period has finished.
9How much water do you need to drink for a pelvic ultrasound?
If the exam is an abdominal ultrasound, the patient does not need to drink water. A pelvic ultrasound requires at least 40 ounces of water one hour prior the appointment time. The full bladder serves as a window to see your pelvic organs (i.e. uterus, ovaries or prostate).
10Can a pelvic ultrasound detect endometriosis?
Often it's not possible to feel small areas of endometriosis unless they've caused a cyst to form. Ultrasound. ... A standard ultrasound imaging test won't definitively tell your doctor whether you have endometriosis, but it can identify cysts associated with endometriosis (endometriomas). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

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