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Ultrasound: Pelvis

What Is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound scan is a medical test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create live images from the inside the body. Also called a sonogram or sonography, ultrasounds let doctors see the body’s soft tissues, which X-rays can’t do.

Doctors order ultrasounds for many reasons, such as to look for the causes of pain, swelling, and infection. Ultrasound scans are safe and painless.

What Is a Pelvic Ultrasound?

A pelvic ultrasound uses sound waves to make images of the pelvis.

An ultrasound machine sends sound waves into the pelvic area and images are recorded on a computer. The black-and-white images show the internal structures of the pelvis, such as the bladder, and in females, the ovaries, uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes.

Why Are Pelvic Ultrasounds Done?

Doctors order a pelvic ultrasound when they're concerned about a problem in the pelvis.

The test can show them the shape, size, and position of organs in the pelvis, and can detect tumors, cysts, or extra fluid in the pelvis. A pelvic ultrasound also can help doctors find the cause of symptoms such as pelvic pain, some urinary problems, or abnormal menstrual bleeding.

Doctors can also use pelvic ultrasounds to watch the growth and development of a baby during pregnancy and to help diagnose some pregnancy problems.

The doctor may ask that your child drink lots of fluids before the exam so that their bladder is full for the test. If the ultrasound is done in an emergency situation, your child may get fluids through an intravenous catheter (IV) or through a urinary catheter to help fill the bladder.

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the pelvic ultrasound or what the test results mean, talk to your doctor.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 30, 2022

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