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Transvaginal ultrasound

  • Definition
    • Transvaginal ultrasound is a test used to look at a woman's uterus, ovaries, tubes, cervix and pelvic area.

      Transvaginal means across or through the vagina. The ultrasound probe will be placed inside the vagina.

  • Alternative Names
    • Endovaginal ultrasound; Ultrasound - transvaginal; Fibroids - transvaginal ultrasound; Vaginal bleeding - transvaginal ultrasound; Uterine bleeding - transvaginal ultrasound; Menstrual bleeding - transvaginal ultrasound; Infertility - transvaginal ultrasound; Ovarian - transvaginal ultrasound; Abscess - transvaginal ultrasound

  • How the Test is Performed
    • You will lie down on a table with your knees bent. Your feet may be held in stirrups.

      You will be given a probe, called a transducer, to place into the vagina. The probe is covered with a condom and a gel.

      • The probe sends out sound waves, which reflect off body structures. A computer receives these waves and uses them to create a picture.
      • The ultrasound technician or doctor can see the picture on a TV monitor.
      • The health care provider will move the probe around the area to see the pelvic organs.

      In some cases, a special transvaginal ultrasound method called saline infusion sonography (SIS) may be needed to more clearly view the uterus.

  • How to Prepare for the Test
    • You will be asked to undress, usually from the waist down. A transvaginal ultrasound is done with your bladder empty or partly filled.

  • How the Test will Feel
    • The test is most often painless, although some women may have mild discomfort from the pressure of the probe. Only a small part of the probe is placed into the vagina.

  • Why the Test is Performed
  • Normal Results
    • The pelvic structures or fetus is normal.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean
    • An abnormal result may be due to many conditions. Some problems that may be seen include:

      • Birth defects
      • Cancers of the uterus, ovaries, vagina, and other pelvic structures
      • Infection, including pelvic inflammatory disease
      • Growths in or around the uterus and ovaries (such as cysts or fibroids)
      • Twisting of the ovaries
  • Risks
    • There are no known harmful effects of transvaginal ultrasound on humans.

      Unlike traditional x-rays, there is no radiation exposure with this test.

  • References
    • Coleman RL, Ramirez PT, Gershenson DM. Neoplastic diseases of the ovary: Screening, benign and malignant epithelial and germ cell neoplasms, sex-cord stromal tumors. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 33.

      Katz VL. Benign gynecologic lesions: vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, oviduct, ovary, ultrasound imaging of pelvic structures. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 18.