How does a gynaecological ultrasound work?

Ultrasound creates pictures of the internal organs of the body from sound waves. There is no radiation involved. The sound waves are directed into a specific area of the body through a transducer. The sound waves hit tissues, body fluids, and bones. Waves then bounce back, like echoes, and are converted into pictures of the internal organs. The images appear on a screen similar to a computer monitor. Dark areas show liquid. Gray or light areas show denser material, like tissue or bone.

Types of Ultrasound

There are many different types of ultrasound exams. The type of ultrasound you have will depend on what types of images your health care provider needs and why the exam is being done. Types of ultrasound are listed as follows:

  • Transabdominal – The transducer is placed on the abdomen.
  • Transvaginal – The transducer is placed in the vagina.
  • Doppler ultrasound – For this exam, high-intensity sound waves are used to study the movement of blood.
  • Sonohysterography – For sonohysterography, you first will have a transvaginal ultrasound exam. A catheter (a small tube) then will be inserted through the cervix, and a saline solution (salt water) will be injected through the catheter. The saline solution fills the uterus so abnormal findings can be seen inside the uterus. It also acts as a contrast material, which makes it easier to see anything abnormal.

Uses in Gynaecology

Ultrasound is used in gynaecology to examine the pelvic organs. An ultrasound exam can help:

  • identify a pelvic mass
  • find causes of pelvic pain
  • find causes of abnormal bleeding or other menstrual problems
  • find the position of an intrauterine device
  • diagnose and treat infertility

Preparation for transabdominal ultrasound

Here’s how to make the most of your appointment and get the most accurate ultrasound results.

  • If you are having a transabdominal ultrasound, wear loose-fitting clothes. This will allow your abdomen to be exposed easily.
  • You may need to drink up to six glasses of water during the 2 hours before your exam. This will make your bladder full. A full bladder is necessary because it pushes loops of the bowel up and out of the way, making the uterus easier to see.

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