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Understanding Pelvic Ultrasound Machines

A pelvic ultrasound machine makes use of sound waves to create a picture of structures and organs found in the pelvis or lower belly. The procedure views the ovaries, bladder, cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes of female patients or the seminal vesicles, prostate gland and bladder of male patients. There are different ways to conduct the diagnostic examination too. Learning the method and preparing well will help you feel more comfortable.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

The ultrasound will clearly depict organs that are uniform, solid or are filled with fluid such as the ovaries, uterus, prostate gland and bladder. Intestines and bones may not be shown as clearly since these are full of gas. There are 3 ways to do pelvic ultrasound - transvaginal, transrectal and transabdominal.

Transvaginal ultrasound involves the transducer being shaped to fit right into a female patient's vagina. The patient may have both transvaginal and transabdominal for a very clear picture of the entire pelvic area. Transvaginal ultrasound is usually done to detect problems regarding fertility. A hysterosonogram may also be indicated in some rare cases so that physicians can view the inner part of the uterus by filling it with fluid. Biopsy or a taking a small tissue sample may be done using small tools inserted into the vagina.

The 2 Other Methods

During transabdominal ultrasound, a transducer is passed back and forth over the pelvic area. It is commonly done in female patients to search for huge uterine fibroids and other abnormalities. Transrectal ultrasound involves the transducer being shaped to fit right into the patient's rectum. It is the most common procedure to view the pelvic organs of male patients, like the seminal vesicles and prostate. Biopsy may also be done using small tools inserted into the rectum during the ultrasound.

In all 3 methods, the transducer works by sending the reflected sound waves to a computer. The picture will then present on a video screen, showing the actual image of the organs. Pictures and videos will then be saved for permanent record of the health institution.

How It's Done

During pelvic ultrasound, you will be asked to lie and stay still while the procedure is being done. You need to take a breath and hold for several seconds. The entire test takes about 30 minutes. You will wait until the radiologist has analyzed and evaluated the images. More images may be needed depending on the presentation.

For transabdominal ultrasound, you need to consume 4 to 6 glasses of water 1 hour before the test. Do not empty your bladder before taking the test. Patients who cannot drink enough fluid will need to have a catheter inserted into their bladder to fill it. Patients can urinate once the test is done.

During transrectal ultrasound, patients will be asked to lie on their left side with their knees bent. A digital rectal examination will be conducted before the ultrasound. Expect to feel some pressure as the transducer probe moves inside the rectum. Transvaginal ultrasound machines will require you to empty your bladder before the procedure. Patients are asked to lie on their back with their hips raised slightly. The probe will be inserted in the vagina.

Patients need to lie still during the procedure. Patients do not need to worry about pain or discomfort since only the tip of the transducer will be inserted.


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