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Obstetrical & Gynecologic Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a safe and useful tool for evaluating numerous obstetrical and gynecologic conditions. Most ultrasounds are performed in our office, providing convenience for our patients and prompt information to our physicians.

  • Ultrasound Overview
  • Diagnostic or Screening Uses
  • Procedure Uses
  • During the Ultrasound
  • After the Ultrasound
  • Ultrasound Risks
  • Ultrasound Results

Ultrasound Overview

Ultrasound (also termed sonography, ultrasonography, and Doppler study) is a non-invasive diagnostic medical technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the internal structures of the body. These sound waves are not detectable by human hearing.

Using ultrasonography, a technician or doctor moves a device called a transducer (probe) over part of your body. The transducer emits sound waves which bounce off the internal tissues and creates images from the waves that bounce back. Different densities of tissues, fluid, and air inside the body produce different images that can be interpreted by a physician.

Diagnostic or Screening Uses

  • Obstetrics:

    Pregnancy ultrasound (or fetal ultrasound) is used to assess the condition of the fetus.

    • Determining gestational age
    • Evaluating fetal anatomy
    • Following fetal growth
    • Establishing fetal well-being in certain high-risk pregnancies
  • Gynecology:

    Vaginal ultrasound, pelvic ultrasound, or transvaginal ultrasound is used to diagnose growths or tumors of the ovary, uterus, and Fallopian tubes.

    • ovarian cysts
    • uterine fibroids
    • uterine growths
    • endometriosis
    • lower abdominal pain
  • Other structures:
    • Using Doppler ultrasound technology, the flow of blood through the vessels can be observed and measured. Blood clots in veins (superficial or deep venous thrombosis (DVT) may be diagnosed.
    • Renal ultrasound is used to evaluate the function and structure of the kidneys. Swelling around the kidney with blockage in the urinary tract can be seen with ultrasound, making abdominal ultrasound useful in detecting kidney stones.
    • Liver ultrasound is used to find abnormalities in the liver tissue and ducts.
    • Gallbladder ultrasound can screen for gallstones or an infected gallbladder.
    • Appendix ultrasound is used in children or pregnant women, where it is necessary to avoid radiation from a CT scan(computerized tomography).

Procedure Uses

  • Ultrasound-guided needle aspiration of amniotic fluid to examine chromosomes or fetal lung maturity
  • Ultrasound-guided needle aspiration of a breast cyst

During the Ultrasound

For the most part, ultrasound is considered a painless, non-invasive diagnostic tool. The procedure usually takes from 30 minutes to an hour.

Most ultrasound scans can be performed with the transducer placed on the skin, with the sound waves aimed at the organ or body part being tested. The patient is usually placed in a comfortable position that provides the ultrasound technician (sonographer) access to the part of the body being tested.

The area being studied is covered with a small amount of gel to eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin. The sonographer moves the transducer across the body part being studied to obtain images.

You may feel pressure as the transducer is moved over an area, and if the area is sensitive, you may feel pain, but the waves from the transducer do not cause this pain.

If Doppler ultrasound is used, you may hear pulse-like “whooshing” sounds that change in pitch as the blood flow is monitored.

Transvaginal ultrasounds, where the transducer is inserted into a woman’s vagina to view the uterus and ovaries, may cause some mild discomfort due to the sensitivity of the tissue being touched by the probe, not by the ultrasound waves.

After the Ultrasound

Once the ultrasound procedure is complete, the gel will be wiped off your skin and you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately in most cases or within a few hours if a more invasive study is done.

Ultrasound Risks

According to the Food and Drug Administration, ultrasound has an excellent safety record since it was put into regular use more than 30 years ago.

It avoids the use of radiation that is common in other diagnostic procedures by using harmless sound waves to produce images.

By using ultrasound technology to assist in other procedures, you may also reduce the risk and increase the effectiveness of those other procedures.

Ultrasound Results

An ultrasound technician will usually perform the procedure. Images are usually available immediately from the scan but they need to be interpreted by a physician.

The report is given to the physician who ordered the ultrasound, who will then discuss results with you.

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