A pelvic sonogram is a diagnostic imaging test used to visualize the internal structure of organs in the pelvic region. Males may need a pelvic sonogram to examine the prostate, bladder, or seminal vesicles. Infertility, unexplained pelvic pain, or abnormal vaginal bleeding may indicate the need for a woman to have an ultrasound exam. The noninvasive test is used to diagnose reproductive disorders, including fibroids, cysts, and polyps, and it can indicate the need for further testing for colorectal or prostate cancer. This procedure is painless and usually only requires a 15 minute appointment.
Ultrasound is commonly used during pregnancy to measure the growth of the unborn baby. The images produced can reveal the amount of amniotic fluid within the uterus and any developmental problems the baby may be having. A sonogram is used to confirm the due date of a pregnancy and determine the placement of the placenta when the time for delivery approaches.
The pelvic sonogram can be administered by a transvaginal, transrectal, or transabdominal examination. Which one used is dependent on the organ or medical condition for which the person is being evaluated. In some cases, the physician will recommend a combination of ultrasound examinations in order to get a complete imaging record of the entire pelvic region.
Before a transabdominal pelvic sonogram, a person will need to drink a large volume of water. A full bladder allows the sound waves transmitted by the ultrasound machine to produce clearer images for evaluation. The person may feel a strong urge to urinate during the exam.
During the transabdominal ultrasound, a person will need to lie flat on their back. The technician administering the pelvic sonogram will apply a gel substance to the abdominal area. Gel aids in the transmission of the sound waves during the testing. A small handheld instrument called a transducer is gently swiped across the abdomen, and images are projected onto a nearby computer screen. The technician is able to label the images seen during the pelvic sonogram for quick evaluation by the physician.
A transvaginal pelvic sonogram produces images from a small transducer inserted into the vagina. It is done in a setting similar to a yearly gynecological exam. A woman will need to lie on an exam table and place her feet into the stirrups. The transducer is lubricated and placed inside the vagina. Images produced are instantly transmitted to a nearby computer screen and saved for future reference.
The transrectal pelvic sonogram is usually performed on men being evaluated for prostate health or colorectal cancer. During the assessment, a man will need to lie on his side on the exam table. The technician will insert a very small-lubricated transducer through the anus and into the rectum. No residual discomfort is usually experienced after a transrectal sonogram.