A transvaginal ultrasound is a safe procedure used to examine the internal organs in the female pelvic region. An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce thorough images of internal organs.
Ultrasound scanning techniques do not use radiation unlike X-rays. They have no harmful side effects and are considered very safe.
Differentiating Transvaginal from Transabdominal ultrasound
Transvaginal ultrasound procedure does not obtain detailed images of the organs in the pelvic region like transabdominal ultrasound. Medical conditions like endometriosis, require images of a higher quality than it is possible to achieve using a transabdominal ultrasound.
Transvaginal ultrasound is an internal examination unlike transabdominal ultrasounds. Transvaginal ultrasound involves the insertion of the transducer into the vagina to produce exceptionally detailed images of the organs in the pelvic region.
Transvaginal ultrasound may be used to examine the following internal organs:
Transvaginal ultrasounds are also used to examine:
Also, doctors may recommend that people have a transvaginal ultrasound for the following signs and symptoms:
- pelvic pain
- unexplained vaginal bleeding
- abnormal results from a pelvic or abdominal exam
Doctors may also recommend that some pregnant women have a transvaginal ultrasound as it can be beneficial for:
- evaluating the condition of the placenta
- checking the heartbeat of the fetus
- monitoring pregnancies with a higher risk of miscarriage
- confirming pregnancy date
- checking for ectopic pregnancy
Prepare for a Transvaginal Ultrasound
A transvaginal ultrasound is a painless procedure that requires minimal preparation. The doctor may request that your bladder be empty or only partially full. In some cases, you may be asked to drink lots of water for a full bladder. If this is the case, they may advise you to drink 32 ounces of liquid over a 30-minute period, starting 60 minutes before the examination commences.
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Most transvaginal ultrasounds are being carried out by a sonographer. The patient will need to undress from the waist down and put on a hospital gown before lying down on the examination table with their knees bent.
The transducer looks like a wand in shape and is somewhat larger than a tampon. The sonographer will cover the transducer with a condom and lubricating gel before inserting it into the vagina.
The transducer will produce sound waves that bounce off the internal organs back to it. The sonographer will use side-to-side and rotational movements to bring different areas into focus. The transducer will transmit the information directly to a TV monitor where it will appear as a series of images.
The images that the transducer captures will display immediately on the screen, making it possible for the sonographer and individual to monitor the examination process.
Risks and side effects
There are no risks or side effects associated with transvaginal ultrasound. A transvaginal ultrasound does not use any radiation, making it a very safe procedure with no side effects.
For pregnant women, it is perfectly safe to perform transvaginal ultrasounds, and the procedure presents no risk to the fetus.
During the transducer insertion, people may feel some pressure and minimal discomfort. This feeling should subside once the procedure ends.
Ensure to let the sonographer know if you feel any pain during the examination.
Image source: Shutterstock, Mayo clinic