Pelvic Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images that represent slices through the body. No radiation is used in ultrasound imaging. The sound waves used are not of the pitch or frequency that humans can hear. The sound waves are generated by the ultrasound machine and are sent into the body by a transducer. The sound is then reflected, like an echo.

The echo returns to the transducer and is converted into an image. Ultrasound may be used to investigate pelvic pain, bleeding or a pelvic mass. The results may help determine your diagnosis and/or the best course of treatment for you.

Exam Preparation

Please check in at the Main Lobby before reporting to the Radiology Department if you have not been preregistered over the phone.

It is important the patient have a full bladder for the examination. This can be accomplished by drinking 4 to 6 full glasses of water about an hour before the examination. A full bladder will enhance the sound wave transmission and provide a clear window for viewing of pelvic organs. The bladder may be emptied for the second half of the exam.

During the Exam

The ultrasound will be performed by a registered diagnostic medical sonographer, who is specially educated, trained and certified.

You will be asked to lie on your back on an examining table and your lower abdominal/pelvic area will be exposed. There are two main methods of performing pelvic ultrasound examinations: abdominal and vaginal. For the abdominal phase of the exam, the sonographer will apply a warmed gel onto your lower abdominal/pelvic area. The gel allows transmission of sound waves. The gel may feel greasy, but wipes off easily and does not stain clothing. The sonographer will then move the transducer (or ultrasound probe) over the pelvic area to demonstrate pelvic organs.

After the abdominal phase of the examination, most patients will undergo the vaginal phase of the exam. For this phase, the bladder is emptied. The transducer is covered, lubricated and inserted into the vagina. Additional images of the pelvic organs will be obtained this way. The transducer is smaller than most speculums used for a vaginal exam or pap smear, but may feel similar. Most women do not find this phase of the exam particularly uncomfortable. In some cases, the radiologist may enter the room to assist in performing the scan.


Once the study is completed, the images will be studied and interpreted by a radiologist, who will compare the ultrasound exam to previous ultrasounds, CT scans and X-rays, and will then send a report on the ultrasound exam and its findings to your physician.