Ultrasound techniques are radiological imaging procedures that use high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of internal body structures or organs. These are non-invasive techniques, meaning no surgical instruments or needles pierce the body and no anesthesia is needed.
In women, the pelvic organs, mainly the reproductive organs are often affected by infections, inflammatory reactions, tumors and other abnormalities. Women’s health issues may include any of these conditions where the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the uterus, cervix, vagina and surrounding structures may be affected. If the woman is pregnant, evaluation of the fetus and the placenta may also be done.
In many cases ultrasound may be performed using the transabdominal approach, where a hand-held transducer attached to a scanner passes the abdominal surface and sends sound waves to the inside of the abdomen and pelvis . These produce images on a screen that are immediately visible to the physician, technician or radiologist. Solid organs and cystic structures, including movements and pulsations are detected. However, in overweight and obese individuals where the abdominal fat is thick, or when there is too much gas in the bowels, interference in obtaining images of the deeper pelvic organs may make visualization difficult.
When an external transabdominal ultrasound is insufficient to create accurate images, the transvaginal technique may be more helpful. This involves the insertion of the transducer that looks like a wand into the vagina as the patient is lying on her back. This is done with a lubricated instrument that is smaller than the usual speculum which is inserted during pelvic examinations. The transducer can then catch better views of the reproductive organs as it is rotated and oriented by the radiologist.