Women Pelvic Ultrasound
Learn more about Women Pelvic Ultrasound
Women sonography, or ultrasound examination, is a medical imaging technique that allows viewing inside the body. It is done using a transducer, also called a ‘probe’, which emits high frequency sound waves (ultrasounds). When reflected by the body’s internal structures, these waves produce images. Sonography can also be useful to guide the punction of an organ, an intra-articualr injection or a biopsy.
Since ultrasounds are absorded by gas and stopped by hard structures such as bone and calcification, some internal organs are not well viewed with sonography which, therefore, is not the primary choice for examining them. It is the case for the lungs, intestines, stomac, and brain. Unlike MRI, CT scan and X-ray, no ionizing radiations are used during sonography. It is painless and non-invasive, which makes it safe for repetitive use.
The sonography is performed by a specialized medical imagery technologist, called a sonographer, or a radiologist. The patient lies on their back or side with their lower abdomen uncovered. A gel is applied to the skin to help with the ultrasounds’ transmission and ease the movements of the probe. This type of examination is usualy painless, but the patient may experience some discomfort as the sonographer presses with the probe.
The pelvic ultrasound for women, often called gyneacological ultrasound, is the ideal examination to explore the organs and tissues inside the pelvic cavity such as the bladder, uterus and the cervix, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, mucus and serous lining, endometrium, myometrium as well as the uterine, ovarian and annexial vascularity. The sonographer sweeps the pelvic surface with the probe to investigate the organs size, shape and anomalies in their structures. If necessary, the technologist may perfom a trans-vaginal examination using a specialized probe, allowing more detailled images. In this case, the patient will, after emptying their bladder, remove any clothing for their bottom and adopt a gyneacological position. The waves are reconstructed into 2D, or even 3D, images on a screen as the sonographer and/or radiologist is carefully examining them.
The pelvic ultrasound for women can provide much information on the organs located in the pelvic cavity that are more complete than regular X-rays.
The pelvic ultrasound examination mainly explores:
• Bladder : Shape, wall, size when full, size when emptied, post-void residu, urinary jets;
• Uterus and cervix: Size, shape, position, IUD location, presence of debris, signs of infections, ascites, tumors, polyps, fibroids;
• Ovaries : Size, follicular activity, presence of cysts, tumors;
• Fallopian tubes : signs of infection, suspicion of rupture, hydrosalphinx;
• Endometrium : thickness, shape, polyps;
• Myometrium: fibrois, cysts, adenomyosis;
• Serous lining: Mucus and sub-mucus linings.
Sonography can also help to show abnormal lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) or the presence of free fluids (ascitis), blood and suspicious masses. It may also be useful to guide surgical interventions such as a punction, ablation, aspiration or biopsy. It is also widely used for the treatment of infertility to extract ovums and implant embryos.
To proceed to the pelvic ultrasound, the patient must have a full bladder. They must drink one liter of clear liquid one hour prior to the examination. Then, the patient must not urinate to leave time for the bladder to fill up.
The pelvic ultrasound for women takes about forty minutes. A detailed report is written by the radiologist and is then transmitted to the patient’s physician who will, if necessary, make decisions regarding treatment and/or further investigations.