What Is a Transvaginal Ultrasound?
ultrasound test uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your
internal organs. Imaging tests can identify abnormalities and help doctors
diagnose conditions. A transvaginal ultrasound is a type of pelvic ultrasound
used by doctors to examine female reproductive organs. This includes the
uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and vagina.
“through the vagina.” This
is an internal examination. Unlike a regular pelvic ultrasound, where the
ultrasound wand rests on the outside of the pelvis, this procedure involves
your doctor or a technician inserting an ultrasound probe about two or three
inches into your vaginal canal.
When Is a Transvaginal Ultrasound Performed?
are many reasons a transvaginal ultrasound might be necessary, including:
- an abnormal pelvic or abdominal exam
- unexplained vaginal bleeding
- pelvic pain
- an ectopic pregnancy (which occurs when the fetus implants
outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes)
- checking for cysts or uterine fibroids
- checking for proper placement of an IUD
doctor might also recommend a transvaginal ultrasound during pregnancy to:
- monitor the heartbeat of the fetus
- look at the cervix for any changes that could lead to
complications such as miscarriage or premature delivery
- examine the placenta for abnormalities
- identify the source of any abnormal bleeding
- diagnose a possible miscarriage
How Should I Prepare for a Transvaginal Ultrasound?
most cases, a transvaginal ultrasound requires little preparation on your part.
arrived at your doctor’s
office or the hospital and you’re
in the examination room, you will have to remove your clothes from the waist down
and put on a gown.
on your doctor’s instructions and the reasons for the
ultrasound, your bladder might need to be empty or partially full. A full
bladder helps lift the intestines and allows for a clearer picture of your
pelvic organs. If your bladder needs to be full, you’ll have to drink 32 ounces of water or any other
30 minutes to one hour before the procedure begins.
on your menstrual cycle or if you’re
have to remove any tampon you’re
using before the ultrasound.
What Happens During a Transvaginal Ultrasound?
it’s time to begin the procedure, you’ll lie down on an examination table and place both of your
feet in stirrups. Your doctor will cover the ultrasound wand with a condom and
lubricating gel, and then insert the wand into your vagina.
might feel some pressure as your doctor inserts the wand. This feeling is
similar to the pressure felt during a pap smear when your doctor inserts the
speculum into your vagina. Once the wand is inside of you, sound waves bounce
off your internal organs and transmit pictures of the inside of your pelvis
onto a monitor. The technician or doctor will slowly move the wand around while
it’s still inside of your body. This
provides a comprehensive picture of your organs.
Saline infusion sonography (SIS) is a
special kind of transvaginal ultrasound that involves inserting sterile salt
water into the uterus beforehand to help identify any possible masses. The
saline solution stretches the uterus slightly, providing a more detailed
picture of the inside of the uterus than a conventional ultrasound. Although a
transvaginal ultrasound can be done on a pregnant woman, SIS cannot.
What Do the Results Show?
might get your results immediately if your doctor performs the ultrasound. If a
technician performs the procedure, the images are saved and then analyzed by a
radiologist. The radiologist will send the results to your doctor.
transvaginal ultrasound helps diagnose multiple conditions, including:
of the reproductive organs
previa (a low-lying placenta during pregnancy that may warrant medical
with your doctor about your results and what type of treatment, if any, is
virtually no risks
associated with a transvaginal ultrasound, although you might experience some
discomfort. The entire test takes about 30 to 60 minutes, and the results are
typically ready in about 24 hours. If your doctor is unable to get a clear
picture, you might be called back to repeat the test.
you experience too much discomfort from a transvaginal ultrasound and can’t tolerate the procedure, your doctor
may perform a transabdominal ultrasound. This involves your doctor applying gel
to your stomach and then using a hand-held device to view your pelvic organs.
This approach is also an option for pediatric patients when pelvic images are