What is Involved in an Ovarian Cyst Ultrasound?

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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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If a female patient is experiencing pain on the lower left or right hand side of her pelvis, a gynecologist my order an ovarian cyst ultrasound. Some physicians equip their offices with these high-tech machines, but not all of them do. A patient may be referred to a hospital or outpatient diagnostic center to have the test performed. An ovarian cyst ultrasound usually is a painless and quick procedure, though some women may experience mild discomfort.

Ultrasound technology uses sound waves to create images of internal structures. These images are displayed on a monitor, recorded and measured so a radiologist can accurately read the results. An ovarian cyst ultrasound is usually ordered when a doctor suspects that a patient's discomfort is stemming from a cystic ovary or other abnormality, such as a tumor mass. During the test, the technician is able to measure the size of a cyst or tumor as well as the reproductive organs. This information can be helpful to the doctor when making a diagnosis or recommending treatment.


A transvaginal ultrasound is usually the best way for a radiology technician to obtain a clear picture. When this type of ovarian cyst ultrasound is conducted, the patient will be asked to undress from the waist down. She will likely be given a white paper sheet or gown so she can cover herself and feel more comfortable. The patient will then lie down on an exam table. While resting on her back, she may be asked to place her feet in stir-ups.

When the test begins, the doctor or technician lubricates the ultrasonic probe, or wand, and then inserts it into the woman's vagina. If the patient prefers to insert it herself, the medical professional will usually give her the option to do so. The technician then carefully adjusts the position of the probe until she is able to locate the patient's reproductive organs. When she is successful, a black and white image, created by ultrasonic sound waves, appears on the screen so that measurements can be taken and recorded.

During the ovarian cyst ultrasound, the technician may have difficulty obtaining a clear image if the patient has a full bladder. For this reason, it is wise for women to use the restroom prior to testing, and limit fluid intake just before the test. A patient's weight may also affect the quality of the image. A technician may have difficulty reaching the reproductive organs with the probe if a woman is heavyset, for example.

An ovarian cyst ultrasound usually does not take longer than 20 minutes, and many times, it is much quicker. At the conclusion of the test, the probe is removed from the patient's vagina and she is free to get dressed and go about the rest of her day. The technologist sends the diagnostic images to the radiologist who reviews them, notes his findings, and forwards a report to the patient's doctor.


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Post 3

@umbra21 - She may have done you a favor in the long run. One of my friends ended up needing surgery to remove a cyst that had apparently grown to the size of a tennis ball. The doctors were very worried that it was going to burst, but luckily there were no complications and she was fine.

She kind of used it as a joke from then on whenever one of her friends had a bad day. It's difficult to really top an ovarian cyst removal like that!

Post 2

@pastanaga - I actually ended up with a ruptured ovarian cyst because the doctor didn't want to do an ultrasound. She was convinced that I had a hernia or something like that and prodded my stomach so hard searching for it that the cyst must have burst, because I started bleeding.

Apparently I was lucky it wasn't any bigger, because women have had to have surgery in similar cases.

Post 1

Make sure you know how they are going to ultrasound your ovaries before you get there, because in some cases they will prefer for you to have a full bladder.

When I had my ovarian cyst ultrasound done in order to confirm polycystic ovarian syndrome, they told me to try and come with a full bladder because then they wouldn't have to use the wand. They could essentially use the same gear they did for a pregnancy ultrasound and the bladder would act as a kind of window.

Unfortunately, they ended up keeping me in the waiting room too long and I ended up going to the restroom, so they had to use the wand. It was much more uncomfortable than the other kind of ultrasound would be.

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