Pelvic ultrasound

Is a noninvasive diagnostic exam that produces images that are used to assess organs and structures within the female pelvis. A pelvic ultrasoundallows quick visualization of the female pelvic organs and structures including the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

The organs and structures of the female pelvis are:

  • Endometrium. The lining of the uterus
  • Uterus (also known as the womb). The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman's lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum. It sheds its lining each month during menstruation, unless a fertilized egg (ovum) becomes implanted and pregnancy follows.
  • Ovaries. Two female reproductive organs located in the pelvis in which egg cells (ova) develop and are stored and where the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced.
  • Cervix. The lower, narrow part of the uterus located between the bladder and the rectum, forming a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body.
  • Vagina (also known as the birth canal). The passageway through which fluid passes out of the body during menstrual periods. The vagina connects the cervix and the vulva (the external genitalia).
  • Vulva. The external portion of the female genital 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
  • Blood flow through pelvic organs

EAT/DRINK: 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.

What happens during a pelvic ultrasound?

A pelvic ultrasound may be performed in your doctor’s office, on an outpatient basis, or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your hospital’s practices.

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

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