Gynecologic or Pelvic Ultrasound

What is ultrasound imaging of the pelvis?

Ultrasound imaging involves exposing parts of the body to a high frequency sound wave in order to produce images of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and other surrounding structures. it is a non invasive medical test that may help your physician or health care provider diagnose certain medical conditions. there are two types of pelvic ultrasound :

Trans-abdominal (images taken from the surface of the abdomen)
Trans-vaginal (images taken with an ultrasound probe inside of the vagina)

Both of these tests work well in combination and can be highly diagnostic

4What are some common indications for pelvic ultrasound?

In women, a pelvic ultrasound is most often performed to evaluate the bladder, ovaries, uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes.

Ultrasound examinations can help to diagnose symptoms experienced by women such as:

Pelvic pain
Abnormal bleeding and menstrual problems
Palpable masses such as cysts and uterine fibroids
Follicle tracking (for fertility patients)
Urinary incontinence
Assessment for follow up of ovarian and uterine cancers

A transvaginal ultrasound is usually performed as it can create a very detailed image. the transvaginal ultrasound can assess the endometrium (lining of the uterus) the myometrium (the muscular walls of the uterus) and the ovaries and tubal area.

Preparation:

A full bladder is required for a pelvic ultrasound. patient’s should drink 1 litre of fluid one hour prior to the examination. do not void prior to the ultrasound. once the ultrasound is complete you will be able to void.

How is the procedure performed?

Transabdominal:

A small area in the lower abdomen and pelvis will be exposed. ultrasound gel will be placed on the abdomen to help conduct the sound waves. the sonographer will move the transducer (ultrasound camera) over the lower abdomen to obtain all of the required images. once the examination is complete the patient will be able to void.

Transvaginal:

Transvaginal ultrasound is performed in a similar way to a gynecologic examination (patient lying on her back with feet in stirrups) and is completed with an empty bladder . the ultrasound probe is covered with a disposable non-latex protective sheath after following all guidelines for high level disinfection/sterilization. a small amount of lubricant is placed on the tip of the probe and it is gently inserted into the vagina. the images are obtained from different orientations in order to get detailed images of the uterus and ovaries. please let your sonographer know if you experience any pain or discomfort. some minor pressure or tendreness may be felt when scanning.

Who interprets the results and how do i get them?

A specialized obstetrician-gynecologist, specifically trained to supervise and interpret ultrasound examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your referring physician. your health care provider will share the results with you.

Follow-up examinations are often necessary, and your doctor will explain the exact reason why another exam is requested.

What are the benefits vs. risks?

Benefits

Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive and is usually painless.
Ultrasound is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods.
Ultrasound imaging does not use any ionizing radiation.
Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.
Ultrasound is the preferred imaging modality for the diagnosis and monitoring of pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Pelvic ultrasound can help to identify and evaluate a variety of urinary and reproductive system disorders.

Risks

For standard diagnostic ultrasound there are no harmful effects on humans.