Saturday, February 9, 2008

Understanding Pelvic Ultrasound

If you have been experiencing painful periods, unusual vaginal bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, or are having difficulty conceiving your doctor may recommend a pelvic ultrasound. This test is a safe, non-invasive way for your doctor to obtain more information to make an accurate diagnosis and offer appropriate options for infertility treatment.

Ultrasound or sonography uses sound waves to produce an image of organs and other tissues in the body. Pelvic ultrasounds are helpful for identifying abnormalities of the reproductive organs such as uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts and can assist your doctor to determine appropriate infertility treatment options. Ultrasounds are also used during pregnancy to monitor growth of the un-born baby. Another advantage of having an ultrasound is that there is no risk of potentially harmful radiation as with an x-ray.

Here’s what you can expect if you’ve been scheduled to have a pelvic ultrasound. Most doctors’ offices will remind the patient before their ultrasound that having a full bladder helps to give clearer images of the pelvic structures. Upon arrival the patient is brought to an examination room with an ultra sound machine. Once in the room the patient will be instructed to lie on the exam table. Depending on the type of ultrasound you may be asked to remove your personal clothing and adorn an examination gown. Next the technician will ask you to raise your shirt or gown to expose your stomach so they can apply a thin layer of gel. The gel may feel cool at first but will quickly warm to the temperature of your skin. The gel acts as a transducer for the sound waves to travel through. The tech will then move the ultrasound probe across your abdomen and an image will be transmitted to a monitor nearby. The tech may take some time to make measurements of different structures and should be able to point out certain things such as kidneys, ovaries, or a developing baby. The tech may limit the amount of information he or she shares, as they are not doctors. A radiologist, one who specializes in reading diagnostic images, is the one who reviews the footage and your doctor will let you know if there are any concerns from your ultrasound results.

A trans-vaginal ultrasound maybe needed to get a better view of certain structures or abnormalities. Instead of the ultrasound probe being used on the stomach an ultrasound wand is inserted into the vagina. It should not be painful, but may feel uncomfortable especially with a full bladder. If you have any questions or concerns during or after the exam don’t hesitate to ask.

About the Author: Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Reproductive Medicine, a leading provider of infertility treatment, to write information about chronic pelvic pain. For more information, please visit

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