A pelvic ultrasound is used to assess the uterus, ovaries and other pelvic structures. It is a commonly used test for conditions such as pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, menstrual problems, assessment of the endometrium, IUCD positioning, fertility, bloating, pelvic masses and issues in pregnancy. Both transabdominal and transvaginal (internal) scans may be performed.
Transvaginal ultrasound involves placing a thin transducer (slightly thicker than a tampon) into the vagina. This results in much more detailed images and information being available due to the transducer’s proximity to the pelvic organs, and ultimately improves accuracy of diagnosis.
There are times when a transvaginal scan will not be required, and we recognise that it will not be a suitable or acceptable procedure for all women. Transvaginal scans are generally not performed on young girls, women that have not been sexually active and those declining the procedure. If you have any concerns please discuss them with the sonographer. A transvaginal scan is optional for all patients and it is your decision whether to proceed with that part of the examination.
About this Ultrasound
Your examination will be performed by a sonographer. Upon being taken into the examination room the sonographer will introduce themselves, confirm your identity and examination. A clear gel is applied to the skin over the area to be examined (lower abdomen/pelvis). The ultrasound probe is then placed in contact with the skin and moved over the surface to study the structures below.
Once adequate images have been obtained externally over the abdomen, the transvaginal scan will be offered and you will be asked to empty your bladder and change in to a gown. The transvaginal transducer is disinfected before use and a protective cover is placed over the transducer each time it is used, so there is no risk of infection. The probe is then lubricated with gel prior to insertion into the vagina, and then moved gently to visualise the pelvic organs. This part of the examination generally only takes 10-15 minutes. During both parts of the scan the sonographer may be required to mildly push on the abdomen to move bowel out of the way to gain better visualisation and test mobility of pelvic structures. If at any time the examination is causing excessive discomfort or you wish the examination to end, please advise the sonographer immediately.
Once your examination is completed a radiologist (specialist medical doctor) will review the sonographer’s images and interpretation, and provide a written report for your doctor. Radiologists may attend your examination to personally examine and discuss your issues, while viewing images in real time.
Before your Scan
A pelvic ultrasound can be performed at any stage of your cycle but for best results we suggest you organise your scan to be done at the end of your period when the lining of the uterus is at its thinnest (day 4-9 of your menstrual cycle). Obviously if you are in pain or your referring doctor requires the examination to be done urgently, then your appointment can be accommodated sooner or at any stage of your cycle. It is a good idea to wear clothing that allows easy access to the area that is being imaged, so two piece clothing is ideal (separate upper/lower garments).
Transabdominal ultrasound provides an overall survey of the whole pelvic region and information on larger structures. A full bladder is required. Drink one litre of water finishing one hour prior to your appointment and do not empty your bladder. Distension of your bladder provides a window to view your pelvic organs through and compresses bowel out of the way. Your bladder need not be overly full that it causes you pain or distress; please advise reception staff on arrival if this is the case and you will be advised of your options.
Transvaginal imaging is performed with an empty bladder and as a result many women may find it more comfortable.
Preparation details for your examination will be confirmed when you make your appointment.
Approximately 30 minutes.