New York City Sonogram Imaging
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the reasons for a pelvic ultrasound?
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:
- Abnormalities in the anatomic structure of the uterus, including endometrial conditions
- Fibroid tumors (benign growths), masses, cysts, and other types of tumors within the pelvis
- Presence and position of an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and other types of inflammation or infection
- Postmenopausal bleeding
- Monitoring of ovarian follicle size for infertility evaluation
- Aspiration of follicle fluid and eggs from ovaries for in vitro fertilization
- Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy occurring outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube)
- Monitoring fetal development during pregnancy
- Assessing certain fetal conditions
What are the risks of 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.
How do I prepare for a pelvic ultrasound?
Drink a minimum of 24 ounces of clear fluid at least one hour before your appointment. Do not empty your bladder until after the exam.
Generally, no fasting or sedation is required for a pelvic ultrasound, unless the ultrasound is part of another procedure that requires anesthesia.
For a transvaginal ultrasound, you should empty your bladder right before the procedure.
Your doctor will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.
Based on your medical condition, your doctor may request other specific preparation.
How is the procedure performed?
For most ultrasound exams, you will be positioned lying face-up on an examination table that can be tilted or moved. Patients may be turned to either side to improve the quality of the images.
After you are positioned on the examination table, the radiologist (a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations) or sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied. The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.
There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. However, if scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer.
Once the imaging is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry quickly. The ultrasound gel does not usually stain or discolor clothing.
Transvaginal ultrasound is performed very much like a gynecologic exam and involves the insertion of the transducer into the vagina after you empty your bladder. The tip of the transducer is smaller than the standard speculum used when performing a Pap test. A protective cover is placed over the transducer, lubricated with a small amount of gel, and then inserted into the vagina. Only two to three inches of the transducer end are inserted into the vagina. The images are obtained from different orientations to get the best views of the uterus and ovaries. Transvaginal ultrasound is usually performed with you lying on your back, possibly with your feet in stirrups similar to a gynecologic exam
What happens after a pelvic ultrasound?