(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 (the skin is not pierced) procedure 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. Doppler ultrasound may also show blood flow in certain pelvic organs.
Ultrasound uses a transducer that sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the organs and structures within. The sound waves bounce off the organs like an echo and return to the transducer. The transducer picks up the reflected waves, which are then converted into an electronic picture of the organs.
Different types of body tissues affect the speed at which sound waves travel. Sound travels the fastest through bone tissue, and moves most slowly 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.
A clear conducting gel is placed between 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.
By using an additional mode of ultrasound technology during an ultrasound procedure, blood flow can be assessed. An ultrasound transducer capable of assessing blood flow contains a Doppler probe. The Doppler probe within the transducer evaluates the velocity and direction of blood flow in the vessel by making the sound waves audible. The degree of loudness of the audible sound waves indicates the rate of blood flow within a blood vessel. Absence or faintness of these sounds may indicate an obstruction of blood flow.
Pelvic ultrasound may be performed using one or both of two methods:
The type of ultrasound procedure performed depends on the reason for the ultrasound. Only one method may be used, or both methods may be needed to provide the information needed for diagnosis or treatment.
Other related procedures that may be used to evaluate problems of the pelvis include hysteroscopy, colposcopy, and laparoscopy. Please see these procedures for additional information.
The organs and structures of the female pelvis are:
Pelvic ultrasound may be used for measurement and evaluation of female pelvic organs. Ultrasound assessment of the pelvis may include, but is not limited to, the following:
Pelvic ultrasound can provide much information about the size, location, and structure of pelvic masses, but cannot provide a definite diagnosis of cancer or specific disease. A pelvic ultrasound may be used to diagnose and assist in the treatment of the following conditions:
Ultrasound may also be used to assist with other procedures, such as endometrial biopsy. Transvaginal ultrasound may be used with a procedure called sonohysterography in which the uterus is filled with fluid to distend it for better imaging.
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend 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:
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:
There is no special type of care required after a pelvic ultrasound. You may resume your normal diet and activity unless your doctor advises you differently.
Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. Please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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