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What Is a Uterine Ultrasound?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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A uterine ultrasound is a non-invasive medical procedure that uses sound waves to allow the medical team to clearly see the uterus. This procedure is used for a variety of reasons, including the diagnosis of fibroids, certain birth defects, or cancerous lesions. Some infertility issues or precancerous conditions such as endometriosis may be able to be diagnosed through the use of a uterine ultrasound. Saline or a Doppler device may be used during this procedure in certain instances. Any specific questions or concerns about the use of uterine ultrasound techniques in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The entire uterine ultrasound procedure usually takes only a few minutes and can be performed in a doctor's office in many cases. A small, hand-held device is lubricated and pressed against the abdomen. High-frequency sound waves are used to create a picture of the uterus. The ultrasound technician can see the the pictures on a monitor as the procedure is performed, and the supervising physician will be able to see them after the conclusion of the appointment.

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Menstrual irregularities, abdominal pain, or abnormal results stemming from a routine pelvic exam may cause a doctor to order a uterine ultrasound. A woman who has a history of unexplained fertility issues may undergo this procedure to check for polyps or any other abnormalities that may be contributing to the infertility problem. Blood clots, tumors, and birth defects affecting the uterus may also be diagnosed through the use of this procedure.

A Doppler device may sometimes be used during the uterine ultrasound procedure. The use of this device helps the medical staff monitor the blood flow in and around the uterus much more accurately than a regular ultrasound procedure. This is also the type of uterine ultrasound used to monitor the developing fetus when a woman is pregnant.

A saline solution may be injected into the uterus during a uterine ultrasound, although this is not a standard procedure in most instances. A small tube known as a catheter is inserted into the uterus from the cervix, and a saline infusion is introduced into the uterus through the catheter. This procedure is predominately used when conditions such as endometriosis or cancer are suspected, although it may be performed for other reasons as directed by a doctor. Women who are scheduled for an ultrasound of the uterus are encouraged to ask the doctor which type of procedure will be performed and if any preparation is required.

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