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May 13, 2021  
EDUCATION CENTER: Diagnostics
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  • Pelvic Ultrasound


    Overview:
    An ultrasound exam is a safe diagnostic procedure that uses very-high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of many of the internal structures of the body. Machines have improved since the test was originally developed in the late 1950's, resulting in images of outstanding detail and clarity.

    Detailed Information:
    Reviewed by Marcela Millan, MD

    Ultrasound imaging involves sending sound waves into the body with a special transducer. These sound waves are reflected off the internal organs and recorded by a special instrument that creates an image of the internal organs. No ionizing radiation (X-ray) is involved.

    Pelvic ultrasound can be performed either transabdominally with a transducer over your abdomen or transvaginally with a special probe inserted through your vagina. Both are used to evaluate uterine size or to detect abnormal conditions within the uterus, such as leiomyoma, polyps, or a thickened endometrium suggestive of neoplasia.

    Transvaginal ultrasounds are used to detect abnormalities in the reproductive system and possible complications with pregnancy. They can detect ovarian cysts, ovarian cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)or bladder tumors. During pregnancy, the transvaginal ultrasound is used to ensure the fetus is developing normally. The test could detect conditions that could result in miscarriage, as well as ectopic pregnancy and abnormally small amniotic sacs. If a patient is infertile, a transvaginal ultrasound might be ordered to examine ovulation.

    The patient lies on her back with her feet in stirrups, as in the pelvic exam. A “transducer” is inserted into the vagina and records images of different parts of the reproductive system that are projected onto a TV screen. Depending on what the test is for, it can take 15 minutes to an hour. Discomfort is minimal as long as the patient has been sexually active or used tampons. If the patient is uncomfortable with the procedure, there are other options; however, most patients find that the transvaginal ultrasound entails the least discomfort.

    Last updated: 09-Apr-07


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