ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of the
organs and structures in the lower belly (pelvis).
ultrasound looks at the bladder and:
Organs and structures that are solid and uniform (such as
the uterus, ovaries, or prostate gland) or that are fluid-filled (such as the
bladder) show up clearly on a pelvic ultrasound . Bones
or air-filled organs, such as the intestines, do not show up well on an
ultrasound and may keep other organs from being seen clearly.
Pelvic ultrasound can be done three ways: transabdominal, transrectal,
- Transabdominal ultrasound. A small handheld device
called a transducer is passed back and forth over the lower belly. A
transabdominal ultrasound is commonly done in women to look for large
uterine fibroids or other problems.
- Transrectal ultrasound. The transducer is shaped to
fit into the
rectum. A transrectal ultrasound is the most common
test to look at the male pelvic organs, such as the prostate and seminal
vesicles. Sometimes, a small sample of tissue (biopsy) may be
taken with small tools inserted through the rectum during a transrectal
- Transvaginal ultrasound. The transducer is shaped
to fit into a woman's
vagina . A woman may have both transabdominal and
transvaginal ultrasounds to look at the whole pelvic area. A transvaginal
ultrasound is done to look for problems with
fertility. In rare cases, a hysterosonogram is done to
look at the inside of the uterus by filling the uterus with fluid during a
transvaginal ultrasound. Sometimes, a small sample of tissue (biopsy) may be
taken with small tools inserted through the vagina during a transvaginal
In all three types of pelvic ultrasound, the
transducer sends the reflected sound waves to a computer, which makes them into
a picture that is shown on a video screen. Ultrasound pictures or videos may be
saved as a permanent record.
Why It Is Done
For men and women, pelvic ultrasound may
be done to:
- Find the cause of blood in the urine
(hematuria). An ultrasound of the kidneys may also be done.
the cause of urinary problems.
- Look at the size of the bladder
before and after urination. This can determine whether the bladder is emptying
completely during urination.
- Check for growths in the
- Guide the placement of a needle during a biopsy or when
draining the fluid from a cyst or
- Check for
colorectal cancer and how it is responding to
For women, pelvic ultrasound may be
- Find out what is causing pelvic
- Look for the cause of vaginal bleeding.
- Look for
pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
intrauterine device (IUD) .
- Look at the
size and shape of the uterus and the thickness of the uterine lining (endometrium ).
- Look at the size and shape
of the ovaries.
- Check the condition and size of the ovaries during
- Confirm a pregnancy and
whether it is in the uterus. Pelvic ultrasound may be used early in pregnancy
to check the age of the pregnancy or to find a tubal pregnancy (ectopic pregnancy) or multiple pregnancy.
- Check the cervical length in a pregnant woman at risk for
- Check a lump found during
- Check uterine fibroids
found during a pelvic examination. Pelvic ultrasound may also be done to check
the growth of uterine fibroids.
- Guide a procedure to remove an
ovarian follicle for
in vitro fertilization.
For men, pelvic ultrasound may be