ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of the
organs and structures in the lower belly (pelvis).
ultrasound looks at the bladder and:
Organs and structures that are solid and uniform (such as
the uterus, ovaries, or prostate gland) or that are fluid-filled (such as the
bladder) show up clearly on a pelvic ultrasound . Bones
or air-filled organs, such as the intestines, do not show up well on an
ultrasound and may keep other organs from being seen clearly.
Pelvic ultrasound can be done three ways: transabdominal, transrectal,
- Transabdominal ultrasound. A small handheld device
called a transducer is passed back and forth over the lower belly. A
transabdominal ultrasound is commonly done in women to look for large
uterine fibroids or other problems.
- Transrectal ultrasound. The transducer is shaped to
fit into the
rectum. A transrectal ultrasound is the most common
test to look at the male pelvic organs, such as the prostate and seminal
vesicles. Sometimes, a small sample of tissue (biopsy) may be
taken with small tools inserted through the rectum during a transrectal
- Transvaginal ultrasound. The transducer is shaped
to fit into a woman's
vagina . A woman may have both transabdominal and
transvaginal ultrasounds to look at the whole pelvic area. A transvaginal
ultrasound is done to look for problems with
fertility. In rare cases, a hysterosonogram is done to
look at the inside of the uterus by filling the uterus with fluid during a
transvaginal ultrasound. Sometimes, a small sample of tissue (biopsy) may be
taken with small tools inserted through the vagina during a transvaginal
In all three types of pelvic ultrasound, the
transducer sends the reflected sound waves to a computer, which makes them into
a picture that is shown on a video screen. Ultrasound pictures or videos may be
saved as a permanent record.
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
June 8, 2011
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