An ultrasound uses the transmission of intermittent high-frequency sound waves through body tissue that reflect back to a transducer. This technology allows for an image of your body tissue to be reflected and displayed on the monitor for your provider to view.
Ultrasounds can be used for many purposes. At My Choice we commonly use ultrasound to help determine the age of a pregnancy (“dating”), but can also be used to evaluate complaints of abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, and more. Simple ultrasound evaluations can be done in our office by our physicians and nurse practitioners. However, if a more detailed or complex evaluation is needed, we may determine it is best to refer you to a radiologist for more detailed imaging studies. Ultrasounds are performed either abdominally (the transducer is placed on top of your belly) or vaginally (sanitized and covered transducer is placed into the vaginal canal). Vaginal ultrasounds usually produce a more clear image and may be used to determine size of early pregnancies.
Your provider will decide whether an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound would be best for your particular concerns, and discuss the method with you prior to exam. For the ultrasound exam, you will be placed in a room with an exam table and you’ll be asked to lay down flat on your back. For an abdominal ultrasound you’ll have to lift your shirt to expose your abdomen, and the provider will put some gel on your skin to help the transducer transmit the images on the screen. We keep our ultrasound jelly in a warmer to avoid a cold sensation when applied. Your provider may apply a mild amount of pressure to produce the most accurate view, but this should rarely cause any pain or discomfort. If a vaginal ultrasound is necessary, you will be asked to empty your bladder and undress from the waist down and will be given a drape to cover yourself. You will lie down on the exam table and a little wedge is placed underneath your bottom to help angle your pelvis. The vaginal transducer is covered with a latex cover (please alert your provider of any latex allergies) and ultrasound gel is applied to the tip. Your provider will alert you to a sensation of cold (jelly) and pressure from the transducer being inserted into the vaginal canal. Once inserted, you may feel some pelvic pressure as the transducer is moved/rotated slightly to acquire the appropriate images.
You may request to view ultrasound images either during the procedure or afterwards. We try to be sensitive to women who may not want to see the screen, especially if they are coming for a pregnancy termination, and will start the exam with the monitor away from view. However, should you want to see the images, please ask and we will be happy to review them with you.