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    Pelvic Ultrasound

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    What is a Pelvic Ultrasound?

    An ultrasound (sonogram) uses sound waves to produce images (pictures) of internal tissues and organs as well as blood flow to the organs. A pelvic ultrasound produces images of the lower abdomen and pelvic organs. A sonographer performs an ultrasound examination. A transducer (a small, hand-held device that looks like a microphone) is placed over the area to be examined and records images electronically. Ultrasound does not use x-ray or other types of radiation.

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    How Do I Prepare for a Pelvic Ultrasound?

    Drink four (4) 8 oz. glasses of water and finish one (1) hour before your exam. Do not empty your bladder. A full bladder helps the sonographer view the pelvic organs.
    Note: Be sure to drink the water slowly to prevent abdominal discomfort.

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    How Do I Schedule My Pelvic Ultrasound?

    Call to Schedule Your Pelvic Ultrasound: Your doctor will give you a referral form with the location of your ultrasound and the phone number to call to make your appointment. Be sure to bring your referral form and insurance card with you to the appointment.

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    What Will I Experience During a Pelvic Ultrasound?

    • You change into a gown for this exam. The examination takes about 30 – 45 minutes.


    • You are positioned on your back on an examination table in the Radiology department. Pillows are provided for comfort.


    • There are two ways to do a pelvic ultrasound. You may have one or both during your examination:


      • Trans-abdominal ultrasound: You must have a very full urinary bladder. First, the sonographer applies a warm, clear gel on your abdomen to help the transducer make direct contact with the skin. Next, the sonographer places the transducer firmly against your skin, and moves it back and forth to see the images of your abdomen on the screen.


      • Trans-vaginal ultrasound: This exam is like a gynecologic exam. A protective cover is placed over the transducer with a small amount of lubricant, and then inserted into the vagina. Only two (2) to three (3) inches of the transducer end are inserted into the vagina. The sonographer may move the transducer to see different angles of your pelvis.
    • After the exam, the sonographer reviews the ultrasound images with a radiologist (a specially trained doctor).

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    What Can I Expect After the Ultrasound Exam?

    There are no restrictions on what you eat (your diet) or your activity, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

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    Who Interprets the Ultrasound and How Do I Get the Results?

    A radiologist sends a signed report to your doctor. Be sure to tell the sonographer if you would like any other doctors to get a copy of the report. Your doctor's office tells you how to get your results.

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    More Ways to Learn

    Visit the Radiology InformationOpens new window Web site.

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    Frequently Asked Questions


    Question: What is a pelvic ultrasound?
    Answer: A pelvic ultrasound (sonogram) is an examination that uses sound waves to produce images (pictures) of the lower abdomen and pelvic organs. Ultrasound images show internal tissues and organs as well as blood flow to the organs.

    Question: How do I prepare for a pelvic ultrasound?
    Answer: Drink four (4) glasses of water one (1) hour before your exam. Do not empty your bladder. A full bladder helps the sonographer view the pelvic organs.
    Note: The water should be taken gradually to prevent abdominal discomfort.

    Question: Is there any pain or discomfort with a pelvic ultrasound?
    Answer: Ultrasound imaging is a painless exam. You may experience very mild discomfort from pressure as the sonographer moves a small device called a transducer over the skin or within the vagina during the exam.



    Produced by the Center for Patient and Community Education in association with the staff and physicians at California Pacific Medical Center. Date: 4/06


    Funded by: A generous donation from the Mr. and Mrs. Arthur A. Ciocca Foundation.

    Note: This information is not meant to replace any information or personal medical advice which you get directly from your doctor(s). If you have any questions about this information, such as the risks or benefits of the treatment listed, please ask your doctor(s).

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