Pelvic Ultrasounds in Sugar Land, TX

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Imaging & radiology
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    Pelvic Ultrasounds

    What is a pelvic ultrasound?

    Pelvic ultrasound sonography is a medical imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the pelvic organs and lower abdomen. Ultrasound images help doctors see what's going on inside the body without having to use surgery. During a pelvic ultrasound, sound waves bounce off organs, tissue, and blood vessels and into a transducer that reads and interprets the waves. This procedure creates real-time images that can help doctors address conditions related to pelvic pain, reproductive organ health, and the wellness of a fertilized egg in utero (a baby growing during pregnancy).

    There is more than just one type of pelvic ultrasound. The type of pelvic ultrasound your doctor orders depends on your sex, health history, and symptoms. Additional types of pelvic ultrasounds include:

    Transvaginal/ endovaginal ultrasound (sonohysterography)

    During a transvaginal ultrasound, the sonographer will insert a small transducer into the vagina while you lie on an exam table with your feet in stirrups. These scans are often done in an obstetrics-gynecology clinic (OB/GYN) by a certified sonographer. The transducer will emit sound waves which will create real-time images of the reproductive and pelvic organs, including the fallopian tubes, endometrium, ovaries, cervix, and vagina. Transvaginal ultrasounds can be used to address conditions such as:
    - Infertility
    - Ovarian cysts
    - Abnormal vaginal bleeding
    - Uterine fibroids
    - Pelvic inflammatory disease (inflammation in the reproductive organs)
    - Intrauterine device (IUD) displacement


    Pregnant women may receive a transvaginal ultrasound to check the health of the uterus. This can be used to detect abnormalities in the uterus or diagnose conditions such as ectopic pregnancy.

    Transrectal ultrasound

    Transrectal ultrasounds are similar to transvaginal ultrasounds, but the transducer is inserted into the rectum instead of the vagina. Transrectal ultrasounds are commonly performed for men who are at risk of prostate cancer but may also help radiologists detect other medical conditions related to the bladder, prostate glands, and seminal vesicles. Transrectal ultrasounds may cause a mild amount of discomfort as the small transducer is inserted into the rectum, but the scan should only take about 30 minutes.

    Transabdominal ultrasound

    During a transabdominal ultrasound, a hand-held transducer is placed upon the lower abdomen to create images of the bladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and intestines. Transabdominal ultrasounds are used to detect abnormal growths (like tumors or cysts), aortic aneurysms, and masses (like an abscess). A special Doppler ultrasound may be used to test blood flow through blood vessels in the abdominal organs.

    Pelvic ultrasounds can help doctors detect a wide range of health conditions inside the pelvis and lower abdomen. They are quick, only mildly uncomfortable, and do not use radiation. They can show real-time images of organs, soft tissue, and blood vessels in the body. The specialized Doppler ultrasound can be used to show blood flow by pinging sound waves off moving blood cells. In some cases, however, further testing may be needed. A doctor may order a biopsy, for example, if they suspect a growth inside the body may be cancerous.

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    What is the difference between an ultrasound and pelvic ultrasound?

    There isn't much of a difference. Pelvic ultrasounds use the same technology that ultrasounds do, they just focus on the organs and tissues in the pelvis and lower abdomen. During a transabdominal ultrasound, a small hand-held transducer will be pressed on the area being examined, as sound waves create real-time images on a monitor near your exam table.

    If your doctor requests that you receive a transvaginal or transrectal ultrasound, the transducer will be inserted into either the vagina or rectum to get a clear picture of the reproductive organs. These ultrasound tests are usually used to screen for signs of cancer (like prostate cancer) or abnormal growths (like ovarian cysts). Transvaginal and transrectal ultrasounds may cause more discomfort than an abdominal ultrasound, as the transducer must be inserted into the body. Despite the discomfort, these ultrasounds are fairly quick procedures- usually only taking 15-30 minutes to complete.

    Transabdominal ultrasounds are no different than ultrasounds imaging other parts of the body. The transducer is held on your skin as images are collected through sound waves bouncing off structures in the body. Transvaginal and transrectal ultrasounds do require the transducer to be inserted into the body through the vagina or rectum, but, aside from that, much of the process is very much the same.

    Talk to your primary care provider about any questions or concerns you have regarding a pelvic ultrasound. You doctor can offer medical advice on how to prepare, and what to expect during the exam.

    Is a pelvic ultrasound painful?

    Painful? No, but you may experience some mild to moderate discomfort depending on the type of ultrasound you are getting. Because transvaginal and transrectal ultrasounds require doctors to insert a small wand-like transducer into the vagina or rectum, you may feel some pressure as the instrument enters the body. These tests are quick - usually only lasting about 10-30 minutes in total, and any discomfort usually goes away shortly after the insertion of the wand.

    If you have a latex allergy, it is important that you inform the sonographer before your ultrasound exam. These gloves are worn during transrectal and transvaginal ultrasounds and can cause serious, even life-threatening reactions. Let your doctor know about any allergies you have, latex or medicinal, to avoid complications during your ultrasound.

    Pelvic ultrasounds should not be painful. If you do experience pain during an ultrasound, even a transvaginal or transrectal scan, inform your doctor immediately.

    How do you prepare for a pelvic ultrasound?

    Your radiologist will provide you with guidance on how to best prepare for a pelvic ultrasound procedure.

    In most cases, you will have to drink at least 24-32 oz of water at least 1 hour before the ultrasound exam. Sound waves travel more easily through liquid, so having a full bladder can help the ultrasound produce fuller and clearer images of organs deep in the pelvis. You can empty your bladder once the exam is over. Aside from drinking lots of water right before your test, no fasting or other preparation is required. If you have allergies or medication sensitivities, you should inform your doctor before your exam.

    Transvaginal ultrasounds require an empty bladder, so you will be asked to urinate before your exam so that the internal organs are cleared of fluid.

    How long does a pelvic ultrasound take?

    Pelvic ultrasounds take about 15-30 minutes to complete. Pelvic ultrasounds are commonly performed at a radiology clinic. If you are receiving a pelvic ultrasound, you may be asked to drink 24-32 oz of water at least 1 hour before the exam.

    During the exam, you will lay on an exam table while a transducer is either held on your lower abdomen or inserted into your rectum/ vagina (for transrectal/transvaginal ultrasounds). This may cause some mild discomfort. During the exam, the images produced by the transducer will be displayed on a monitor near your exam table. This means that both you and the sonographer can view the imaging in real-time.

    You can usually go home right after your ultrasound exam. Because pelvic ultrasounds do not require anesthesia, you can go about your daily activities as normal. A radiologist will examine the test results of your ultrasound and follow up with your doctor's office about any concerns or findings from the imaging.

    When do you get the test results from a pelvic ultrasound?

    You will usually get your test results from a pelvic ultrasound within a few days of your scan. During the scan, both you and the sonographer performing the exam will be able to see the imaging in real-time. Sonographers, or technologists, may be able to answer some questions about what it is that the ultrasound is showing, but cannot formally diagnose medical conditions. Sonographers are health care professionals, but not medical doctors. They cannot legally give you a diagnosis based on the images displayed by an ultrasound exam.

    After the imaging has been completed, the results will be given to a radiologist for review. Radiologists are medical doctors who are able to diagnose and treat symptoms or conditions you may be experiencing. Once the radiologist has examined and interpreted the test results of your ultrasound, they will usually follow up with your doctor's office to report their findings. Your doctor will then get in touch with you to with a diagnosis and treatment plan, if needed.

    Depending on the type of ultrasound exam and findings from the test, you should have your results within a few days. You can always ask your doctor, or the radiology clinic, about when you might expect results after your scan.

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