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What Is Pelvic Ultrasound?

Ultrasound of any body part involves scanning with high frequency sound waves in order to create images. Compared to the X-Rays, ultrasound does not expose the individual to radiation so it is in that sense safer to use. Another difference between the two methods is that ultrasound lets you observe the movements inside the organs in real time while X-Rays produce frozen pictures. Via ultrasound technicians can follow the blood flow or insert a dye and watch it move from organ to organ. Ultrasound is in most cases a noninvasive test, and it allows medical care professionals to make precise diagnoses and propose methods of treatment. It is also used to assess the treatment outcome. A pelvic ultrasound provides images of the pelvis and lower abdomen. Pelvic ultrasound can be divided into three distinct types including abdominal, transrectal, and transvaginal ultrasound. The abdominal ultrasound is most often performed on women to look for urinary tract problems in the lower abdomen. The vaginal ultrasound is an invasive procedure during which the tube of the device, called a transducer, is inserted into the vagina usually to investigate fertility problems. In many cases female patients have to undergo both the abdominal and vaginal ultrasounds to get a more thorough picture of the condition. If the patient needs to do a biopsy of the uterus a sample may be taken during the vaginal ultrasound. Lastly, rectal ultrasound is used on men to diagnose problems of the prostate. The procedure is also invasive, and the transducer is inserted through the rectum. Similarly to the vaginal image scanning, during the rectal ultrasound a small tissue sample can be taken for pathological testing. In addition, Doppler ultrasound is sometimes coupled with the regular ultrasound to visualize veins and arteries. Doppler ultrasound is also employed in examining blood clots, narrowing or swelling of blood vessels, and tumor formation.

What is Pelvic Ultrasound Used For?

Pelvic ultrasound is most commonly used on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and the bladder. As it is employed in monitoring the reproductive organs, this type of ultrasound is utilized to observe the development of an embryo during pregnancy. Further, there are various symptoms and conditions for which a primary health care provider will refer the person for a pelvic ultrasound. Some of the symptoms and illnesses include pain in the pelvic area, cysts in the ovaries, tumors of internal reproductive organs, heavy and painful periods, and bleeding inside the abdomen. As already mentioned, there is a subtype of ultrasound used for evaluating the wall of the uterus called transvaginal ultrasound. Transvaginal ultrasound provides images of the endometrium and allows the medical care providers to assess its thickness. A number of possible disorders can be detected using the transvaginal ultrasound including fibroids, polyps in the endometrium, scars and anomalies on the uterus, as well as cancer. When it comes to men, pelvic ultrasounds are used for evaluating and monitoring the prostate, bladder, and seminal vesicles. For a more detailed image of the prostate many health care providers require transrectal ultrasound. During the transrectal ultrasound a small tube is inserted into the rectum and the images are taken from inside the prostate. Other than detecting problems in the reproductive organs, ultrasound is often used for uncovering kidney and bladder stones, tumors, and other related urinary problems. When it comes to children, pelvic ultrasound is used to assess the early or late onset of puberty in girls, unidentified pain in the pelvic area, and genital and pelvic organ anomalies. In addition, pelvic ultrasound is also used for guiding procedures such as needle biopsies during which instruments are inserted into the abdomen to extricate cells for pathology testing.

How Is The Procedure Performed?

Medical care professionals advise the patients to wear comfortable clothing that can easily be removed for the test and to leave the jewelry at home. The patient will probably be covered with a paper gown during the exam. Individuals need to be still during the procedure as the waves are sensitive to movement. Parents are advised to explain the procedure to their children before coming for an ultrasound in order to have a smooth exam. It is very important that the bladder of the patient be full to get a better picture of the area. The ultrasound scanner consists of a computer, video display, electronics, and a transducer which is used for the actual testing. The transducer is completely silent even though it sends high frequency sound waves and receives audio reflections from the organs. The images captured during the test are available right away on the screen, and printouts are provided for the patients to take back to their doctors. In cases of the invasive ultrasounds the transducer is lubricated and covered. The non-invasive procedure is painless whereas the vaginal and rectal ultrasounds can be slightly uncomfortable.

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