Transvaginal Ultrasound
Vaginal Sonogram: Testing For Gynecologic Problems

medical tests for women


Transvaginal Ultrasound


What Is A Transvaginal Ultrasound?
Can A Transvaginal Scan Cause A Miscarriage?
How Do I Prepare For My Test?
How Is The Procedure Done?
Does It Hurt?
What Are The Risks?

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Medical Tests For Women
Other names: Transvaginal ultrasound study (TVS), vaginal ultrasound, vaginal sonogram and endovaginal ultrasound.

What Is A Transvaginal Ultrasound?

It is an internal ultrasound scan that is inserted into the vagina to look at a woman's pelvic organs - that is, her ovaries, uterus (womb), fallopian tubes, cervix, appendix and bladder. Outside of an MRI scan or CT scan, a transvaginal ultrasound is the best way to obtain detailed pictures of the pelvic area. It is a safe and painless procedure.

When It Is Used

• Routine first trimester pregnancy scan.
• To investigate the pelvic area after an abnormal Pap smear test result.
• To diagnose urinary tract infections
• To diagnose kidney disease
• To investigate the cause of infertility

It is also used to investigate the cause of irregular bleeding or pelvic pain which could indicate:

Ovarian cysts, including twisted or ruptured cysts
Uterine fibroids (benign growths in the womb)
Uterine polyps (non cancerous growths on the wall of the womb)
Cervical polyps (non cancerous growths on the cervix)
Endometriosis (reverse menstrual bleeding)
Endometrial hyperplasia (precancer)
Endometrial cancer (cancer of the womb)
Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside of the womb)
Cervical cancer (cancer of the cervix)
Ovarian cancer (cancer on one or both ovaries)
Fallopian tube cancer (rare cancer of the fallopian tubes).

In Pregnancy

A transvaginal ultrasound is often the scan of choice in the first trimester of pregnancy. The reason being, that it offers more detailed images of the fetus in it's early stages. It is used to date a pregnancy and to check that the fetus has a heartbeat. In the second trimester, doctors switch to an abdominal scan where the transducer is rubbed across the tummy (instead of being inserted into the vagina). Read more about ultrasound scans in pregnancy.

Can A Transvaginal Scan Cause A Miscarriage?

No, the test is completely safe. It just so happens that the scan is commonly used in first trimester when the natural rate of miscarriage is at it's highest. In other words, the rate would be the same were an abdominal scan used instead.

How Do I Prepare For My Test?

The test can be done if you have a period (although it will be a little messier). If you are menstruating and have a tampon in, remove it before the test.

Drink about 2 pints of water an hour before your exam. Arrive at your doctors with a full bladder.

How Is The Procedure Done?

Upon arrival at your doctor's office, you will be asked to remove your clothes and put on a hospital gown. Some clinics only require patients to remove clothes from the waist down. You will be taken to the examination room where a sonographer (professional ultrasound specialist) will explain the procedure to you. You will be asked to lie back on a table and bend you knees up, just as you would for a pelvic examination. A probe called a transducer, covered with a condom and lubrication, is inserted into the vagina. It is shaped like a wand, and may be a bit cold to begin with.

The sonographer will move the probe gently around inside you. The probe sends out pulses of ultra high frequency sounds into the pelvis. It also acts as a listening device, waiting for the sounds it emitted to bounce back off the tissue it encounters. The software on the attached computer will convert those sounds into images on a nearby monitor. After about 10 minutes, the probe is withdrawn and you will be told to get dressed. Your doctor should be able to discuss the results immediately with you.

Does It Hurt?

No, it does not usually hurt. Some women may experience mild discomfort from the pressure of the probe inside the vagina. Only part of the probe is inserted into the vagina.

What Are The Risks?

No radiation is emitted by ultrasound scans (unlike CT scans or X-rays). A transvaginal ultrasound is believed to be safe for both patients and unborn children.

If you are pregnant and your waters have broken but you have not gone into labor, you should not be given a transvaginal scan due to a small risk of infection.

If you are pregnant and diagnosed with placenta previa or experiencing vaginal bleeding, you should also avoid the test because it can making bleeding worse.

  Related Articles on Diagnostic Testing

For more articles, see the following:

List of hospital departments: Know your way around.
Vaccinations for women: What vaccines you need and when.

Back to Homepage: Womens Health Advice

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