Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Pelvic ultrasound - abdominal

Definition

A pelvic (transabdominal) ultrasound is an imaging test. It is used to examine organs in the pelvis.

Alternative Names

Ultrasound pelvis; Pelvic ultrasonography; Pelvic sonography; Pelvic scan; Lower abdomen ultrasound; Gynecologic ultrasound; Transabdominal ultrasound

How the Test is Performed

During the procedure, you will lie on your back on the table. Your health care provider will apply a clear gel on your abdomen.

Your provider will place a probe (transducer), over the gel, rubbing back and forth across your belly:

  • The probe sends out sound waves, which go through the gel and reflect off body structures. A computer receives these waves and uses them to create a picture.
  • Your provider can see the picture on a TV monitor.

Depending on the reason for the test, women also may have a transvaginal ultrasound during the same visit.

How to Prepare for the Test

A pelvic ultrasound may be done with a full bladder. Having a full bladder can help with looking at organs, such as the womb (uterus), within your pelvis. You may be asked to drink a few glasses of water to fill your bladder. You should wait until after the test to urinate.

How the Test will Feel

The test is painless and easy to tolerate. The conducting gel may feel a little cold and wet.

Why the Test is Performed

A pelvic ultrasound is used during pregnancy to check the baby.

A pelvic ultrasound also may be done for the following:

Pelvic ultrasound is also used during a biopsy to help guide the needle.

Normal Results

The pelvic structures or fetus are normal.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An abnormal result may be due to many conditions. Some problems that may be seen include:

Risks

There are no known harmful effects of pelvic ultrasound. Unlike x-rays, there is no radiation exposure with this test.

References

Benacerraf BR, Goldstein SR, Groszmann YS. Normal pelvic ultrasound and common normal variants. In: Benacerraf BR, Goldstein SR, Groszmann YS, eds. Gynecologic Ultrasound: A Problem-Based Approach. Philadelphia. PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:221-233.

Stolz L, Adhikari S. Point-of-care pelvic ultrasound. In: Lumb P, Karakitsos D, eds. Critical Care Ultrasound. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 43.

Review Date:3/4/2016
Reviewed By:Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Health
Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No