Pelvic ultrasound is a noninvasive procedure used to take pictures and measurements of organs and structures within a woman’s pelvis. It allows us to see the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
Ultrasound uses a hand piece that sends out sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. The sound waves move through and bounce off the organs like an echo and return to the hand piece. The reflected waves are then converted into an electronic picture of the organs. A clear conducting gel is placed between the hand piece and the skin to obtain the best pictures.
Pelvic ultrasound may be performed using one or both of two methods:
Transabdominal (through the abdomen) – a hand piece is placed on the abdomen using the conductive gel
Transvaginal (through the vagina) – a long, thin hand piece is covered with the conducting gel and a plastic/latex sheath and is inserted into the vagina
The type of ultrasound procedure performed depends on the reason for the ultrasound.
Reasons for the Procedure
Pelvic ultrasound is excellent for the measurement and evaluation of female pelvic organs.
Ultrasound assessment of the pelvis may include, but is not limited to, the following: Size, shape, and position of the uterus and ovaries; thickness, echogenicity (darkness or lightness of the image related to the density of the tissue), and presence of fluids or masses in the endometrium, myometrium (uterine muscle tissue), fallopian tubes, or in or near the bladder; length and thickness of the cervix; changes in bladder shape and blood flow through pelvic organs.
Pelvic ultrasound in gynecology can provide needed information about the size, location, and structure of pelvic masses, and 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 and postmenopausal bleeding.
A saline ultrasound is a special ultrasound procedure with Dr. Hayes and our Sono Tech. It feels most like a combination of a vaginal ultrasound and a pap smear. Using a speculum to see the cervix, a tiny straw is passed painlessly into the endometrial cavity of the uterus (where our periods come from). We use a small amount of sterile water to outline the walls of the cavity, looking for polyps or fibroids in the cavity. This procedure only takes about 2 minutes to complete. It is helpful when there is irregular or heavy bleeding, or when ultrasound measurements of the endometrial lining look thickened. Occasionally there is a very mild cramping, but mostly it is actually neat to see the inside walls of your own uterus. You will be told what the finding s are as the test is being done. You can continue your regular activities right after the test.