What is an Ultrasound?
Ultrasonography is the transmission of intermittent high-frequency sound waves through body tissue which are reflected back from this tissue to a transducer. From the transducer an image of the body tissue is displayed on the monitor screen.
Uses: Family Planning Associates uses ultrasound technology to assist in gestational age dating. Nurse Practitioners or Physician Assistants who have received training in measuring specific fetal structures for age dating perform the ultrasound. Our physicians also use the ultrasound for evaluating patients with complaints of abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding. While it is common to feel pressure in the abdomen or the vagina, there is little discomfort associated with the use of ultrasounds.
Risks: Numerous studies have been performed to determine the risks of ultrasound use in pregnancy. The studies have determined that there are no known risks and no confirmed biological hazards.
Types of Exams using Ultrasound:
Pelvic – The abdominal/pelvic exam involves placement of the transducer on the abdomen. A conducting gel is placed on the abdomen through which sounds waves are transmitted and received. A “real time” image is displayed on the monitor screen.
Vaginal – The vaginal ultrasound consists of placing a specially designed probe (with latex cover) into the vaginal canal (these probes are sanitized after each use). The vaginal ultrasound usually produces a more distinct picture of the uterine contents and allows for more accurate determination of very early gestational ages.
Will I have an abdominal or a vaginal ultrasound?
Your provider will decide whether or not to use an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound probe based on your reason for presenting for care. If you are pregnant and in your first trimester, usually a vaginal probe is utilized to more accurately determine the gestational age of your pregnancy. If you have symptoms of abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, a vaginal probe will likely be used to obtain better images of your uterus, ovaries, and surrounding pelvic organs.
What should I expect during an ultrasound?
Before performing an abdominal ultrasound you will be asked to lay flat on your back and lift your shirt so that your abdomen is exposed. Prior to a vaginal ultrasound, you will be asked to place your feet in stirrups in what is called a lithotomy position. Your provider will use a cold gel that helps to transmit the sound waves. You will be cautioned about a cold, pressure sensation prior to the probe being gently placed into your vagina. If you are at all uncomfortable, or you have questions during the ultrasound, it is always possible for your provider to stop.
Do I have to look at the ultrasound?
Many women presenting for pregnancy termination have no desire to view the images. We make every effort to conceal the screen from view for those patients who might not wish to see their pregnancy. If you would like to see your ultrasound images, please ask and we would be happy to show you.