An ultrasound, also called a sonogram, is an imaging test that is used to create pictures of internal organs and structures. Ultrasound may be used to examine a woman’s reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, cervix, and vagina. An obstetric ultrasound is used to monitor a pregnancy. A transvaginal ultrasound uses a transmitting device that is placed in the vagina to provide detailed images.
An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images. It uses a small conduction device that is placed on skin or a conduction wand that is inserted into the vagina. The device transmits sound wave information that is translated into pictures on a monitor. Particular images may be saved in the computer or printed out. There are no known risks associated with ultrasound. Unlike X-rays, ultrasound does not involve radiation.
This type of ultrasound is used to provide images of your reproductive organs and structures. It can help your doctor diagnose the cause of pain, abnormal bleeding, menstrual problems, and infertility. It can show the lining of the uterus, ovarian cysts, ovarian tumors, cancer, pelvic infections, and uterine fibroids.
During pregnancy, an ultrasound may be used to monitor fetal growth and the pelvic organs. An ultrasound may show a baby’s heart beat or sex. It may be used to check for Down’s Syndrome or other fetal developmental abnormalities. An ultrasound is useful for diagnosing a multiple pregnancy, miscarriages, placenta problems, tumors, and ectopic pregnancy - an abnormal pregnancy that implants outside of the uterus.
An ultrasound is an outpatient examination that may be performed in a doctor’s office, the radiology department of a hospital, or an imaging center. You may be asked to drink several glasses of water an hour before your test. A full bladder helps to create a good image. You should not urinate before your test.
You will lie on your back on an examination table for the procedure. A conducting gel will be placed on your skin. A radiology technician or your doctor will gently place and move the conduction device on your lower abdomen to create the images. An ultrasound usually causes only slight or no discomfort.
For a transvaginal ultrasound, you will undress from the waist down and use a sheet for coverage. You will lie on your back on an examination table and place your feet in stirrups to position your pelvis. The conduction wand is gently inserted into your vagina and positioned to produce the best images. You may feel temporary slight discomfort or pressure during the procedure.
If your doctor performs your ultrasound, your results may be discussed at the time of your test. A radiology technician may perform your test, but is not qualified to diagnose or discuss your results with you. In this case, a radiologist or your doctor will review your images shortly after your test. Your doctor will contact you with the results.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Author
Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD,
Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. The library
commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on 4-27-2010.