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Pelvic Ultrasound

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Stool (feces), air or other gas, or X-ray contrast material (such as barium) in the intestines or rectum.
  • Inability to remain still during the test.
  • Obesity.
  • Having an open wound on the belly.

A full bladder is needed for a transabdominal ultrasound, so that the pelvic organs can be seen clearly.

What To Think About

  • Ultrasound costs less than other tests that make pictures of organs and structures in the body, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). But in some cases, a CT scan or an MRI may also be needed to confirm a problem, such as cancer.
  • With pelvic ultrasound, your doctor can usually tell the difference between a fluid-filled cyst, a solid tumor, or another type of lump. This is one of the main advantages of an ultrasound. An abnormal lump needs more testing. A follow-up ultrasound is often done in 6 to 8 weeks because many problems go away on their own within that time. Pelvic ultrasound cannot determine whether a lump is cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). A biopsy may have to be done for this.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound is used during fertility checks to help guide the removal of ovarian follicles for in vitro fertilization.
  • Fetal ultrasound can be done to see your baby (fetus). For more information, see the topic Fetal Ultrasound.
  • If male problems, such as a big prostate, are found on ultrasound, more testing may be done.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Last Revised June 8, 2011
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 08, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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