Most people associated ultrasound with pregnancy, but it has many other applications in diagnosing and managing gynecologic issues. Northwest Women’s Center in Houston, TX, is equipped with the most advanced ultrasound technology to help ensure women receive the best and most appropriate care for all their obstetric and gynecologic needs.
Ultrasound Q & A
What is ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a diagnostic technique that uses sound waves emitted painlessly through the skin to create images of organs and processes inside the body without the use of radiation. The technique works like this: As the sound waves penetrate the skin and “bump into” solid structures inside the body, the waves bounce back to the surface of the skin where they’re captured and transmitted to a computer. The computer takes these sound waves and “interprets” them into images that can be viewed on a monitor or printed out. In gynecology, ultrasound is commonly associated with the evaluation of a developing baby during pregnancy, but it has many other applications as well, including diagnosing diseases and managing treatment.
How is an ultrasound performed?
In gynecology, ultrasounds may be performed through the skin or transvaginally using a special wand-shaped device that’s inserted into the vagina. During both exams, the ultrasound waves are transmitted through a device called a transducer. The waves penetrate the tissue without causing any discomfort so there’s no need for anesthesia or sedation. The ultrasound exam is performed in a darkened room so it’s easier for the doctor or technologist to see the images as they appear on the screen. Ultrasound is performed in “real-time,” which means the images can be seen and evaluated during the exam, unlike an x-ray where the images are evaluated after the exam is complete. Most ultrasounds take 30 minutes or less to complete.
When is ultrasound used in gynecology?
In addition to monitoring the growth and development of a fetus, ultrasound is also used to:
- determine the position of a baby in the uterus
- evaluate the health of the umbilical cord and placenta
- diagnose and manage treatment of fibroids and cysts
- determine the cause of abnormal menstrual bleeding or vaginal bleeding
- determine the cause of pelvic pain
- manage the treatment of endometriosis and other conditions affecting the reproductive tract or pelvic organs
Ultrasound is also used to manage ongoing treatment of some conditions and disorders, and because it does not use radiation like x-rays and CT scans, there’s no need to worry about radiation-related risks.