Pelvic ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive and radiation-free procedure. It is a standard vaginal, abdominal, and rectal examination tool to detect various medical anomalies. It uses sonography to generate images of the interior pelvis and lower abdomen.

Why would I need a pelvic ultrasound?

Pelvic ultrasounds are used to screen for medical concerns when the following symptoms occur:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Unusually heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Non-menstrual bleeding
  • Fertility challenges
  • Bladder or urinary tract issues
  • Kidney stones

Expectant mothers are given pelvic ultrasound screenings to evaluate the health of the fetus. Pelvic ultrasound imaging might also be used to perform needle-guided biopsies.

Can a pelvic ultrasound detect cancer?

While a transabdominal pelvic ultrasound can visualize suspicious growths and structural anomalies, it is generally not used to screen for cancer. This is because it cannot reliably detect early or precancerous signs.

Your physician will recommend additional tests, like a transvaginal or transrectal ultrasound, if cancer is suspected.

What does a pelvic ultrasound do?

Pelvic ultrasound is used to visualize the following organs:

  • Bladder
  • Cervix
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Ovaries
  • Prostate

There are three types of pelvic ultrasound: transvaginal, transrectal, and transabdominal.

  • Transabdominal pelvic exam: The majority of ultrasound screenings involve transabdominal exams. The technician positions the patient on an examination table and applies a gel to the exam site. The water-soluble gel helps the transducer pick up sound waves more clearly, creating a sharper image.

    After applying the gel, the technician will pass the hand-held transducer over the area to be examined, never leaving contact with the site. The examination continues until a full image is captured.

    Transabdominal pelvic exams are not typically uncomfortable or painful unless the examination site is sore.
  • Transvaginal pelvic exam: Transvaginal pelvic exams are performed like gynecological exams. They are an important woman's health diagnostic tool. The patient lies on an examination table and the technologist places a protective shield over the transducer and applies a gel lubricant. The instrument is then inserted into the vaginal canal to capture multi-dimensional views of the cervix, uterus, and ovaries. Transvaginal ultrasounds may also be used during pregnancy to scan for fetal abnormalities and certain genetic conditions or manage complications during pregnancy.

How do I prepare for a pelvic ultrasound?

Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions before the procedure.

How long does a pelvic ultrasound take?

Pelvic ultrasound exams generally take roughly 30 minutes.

Does a pelvic ultrasound have any risks?

Pelvic ultrasound screenings do not carry any medical risks. However, there are limitations to what an ultrasound exam can identify. For example, if the bowels are filled with air, the imaging could be compromised. Further testing might be needed if the imaging is suboptimal.

Please contact the helpful team at Valley Radiology to schedule a pelvic ultrasound today.