A pelvic ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging test that uses sound waves to produce pictures of the organs and structures in the pelvis.
A pelvic ultrasound is also known by a few other names including:
- Pelvic sonography
- Pelvic scan
- Gynecologic ultrasound
- Transvaginal ultrasound
- Endovaginal ultrasound
- Transabdominal ultrasound
- Transrectal ultrasound
A radiologist or technologist performs an ultrasound by using a transducer or probe —a device that transmits sound waves through the body. These sound waves bounce off the organs in the pelvis and back to the transducer, which sends electronic signals to a computer to create images.
A pelvic ultrasound can be performed by using the following methods:
- Transabdominal ultrasound ( through the abdomen)- during this procedure, patients are required to lie on their backs. The technologist then covers the transducer with a conductive gel and uses the device to run back and forth over the belly.
- Transvaginal ultrasound (through the vagina)- this method requires a technologist to cover the transducer with a gel and plastic or latex covering, before inserting it into the vagina.
- Transrectal ultrasound (through the rectum)- this requires patients to lie on their side, facing away from the technologist who places a gel and special covering on the transducer, before inserting it into the rectum.
Another method that might be used is Doppler ultrasound, which measures the speed and direction of blood flow through the arteries and veins in the abdomen to identify potential problems such as blood clots or narrowed arteries.
Your doctor may order an ultrasound for several reasons, including diagnosing a condition, evaluating the organs and structures in the pelvis, or assisting in the treatment of certain conditions.
In women, a pelvic ultrasound can be used to:
- View structures in the pelvis including the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, bladder, and uterus
- Look for cancer in the uterus, ovaries, and bladder
- Diagnose ectopic pregnancies
- Look for growths such as masses, cysts, fibroids, and other types of non-cancerous tumors
- Check for pelvic inflammatory disease
- Diagnose or treat fertility problems
- Determine the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding or pain
- Monitor the development of a fetus during pregnancy
- Assess certain fetal conditions
- Assist in procedures such as an endometrial biopsy
In men, a pelvic ultrasound can be used to:
- View the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and bladder
- Find bladder tumors
- Identify kidney stones
- Check for prostate cancer
- Check for urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate
- Check for problems with the seminal vesicles
What To Expect
Preparation for a pelvic ultrasound depends on the type of procedure that is being performed. If you are having a transabdominal ultrasound, your bladder needs to be full. A full bladder helps organs to show up more clearly in the pictures. You may be asked to drink about 32 ounces ( four 8-ounce glasses) of water or other clear liquid at least one hour before the examination.
If you are having a transvaginal ultrasound, you will be required to empty your bladder before the procedure. For those who are having a transrectal ultrasound, you may be given an enema before your exam.
Depending on the type of ultrasound, you may experience some or no discomfort during the procedure. There should be no pain during a transabdominal ultrasound. However, there may be some discomfort while the transducer is being inserted during a transvaginal or transrectal ultrasound.
After your ultrasound, a radiologist will analyze the images produced and send a report to your doctor.
Your doctor will use this information to help determine a diagnosis, a course of treatment, or if further testing is needed.
The Radiology Department at Jamaica Hospital is designated as a Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology in all areas of imaging including MRI, CT scan, mammography, nuclear medicine, and ultrasound. This designation demonstrates our commitment to providing the highest quality, and safest imaging services.
To schedule an appointment with our team, please call 718-206-6039. Our hours of operation are as follows:
Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday – 8:00 am-4:30 pm
Tuesday and Friday – 8:00 am-6:00 pm
Saturday- 8:00 am-1:00 pm