Pelvic Ultrasound: What is it? Indications, Conditions Detected, Preparation, Procedure and Risks

It is a test that uses sound waves to take pictures of the organs inside the pelvis.

It is prescribed or indicated by doctors to validate, diagnose or follow up on a condition, as well as to verify the health of an unborn child while it is in the mother’s womb.


Generally in women, a pelvic ultrasound is usually recommended to check:

  • The cervix.
  • The fallopian tubes.
  • The ovaries.
  • The uterus.
  • The vagina
  • The bladder.

For men, it is used to check:

  • The bladder.
  • The prostate gland.
  • The seminal vesicles (glands that add fluid to semen).

This type of study is also known by the following names:

  • Gynecological ultrasound.
  • Pelvic examination.
  • Pelvic Sonography.
  • Transabdominal ultrasound.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Transrectal ultrasound.
  • Endovaginal ultrasound.

What is detected in a Pelvic Ultrasound?

It is common for specialist doctors to detect the following conditions in women undergoing evaluation:

  • Problems with or within the structure of the uterus or ovaries.
  • Finding or diagnosis of cancer in the patient’s ovaries, uterus, or bladder.
  • Find or evaluate an intrauterine device.
  • Detect or find growths such as non-cancerous tumors, fibroids, or benign or malignant cysts.
  • Discovery of causes that generate abnormal bleeding or unusual pain for the patient.
  • Evaluate or treat fertility problems.
  • Monitor the growth of your fetus or unborn during the gestation or pregnancy process.
  • Check or diagnose pelvic inflammatory disease, which is an infection of the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.
  • Diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, which consists of a fertilized egg that grows outside the uterus)
  • Find or find a sample of tissue to remove from the patient’s uterus during an endometrial biopsy.
  • Look for or find kidney stones.

For men, a pelvic ultrasound can diagnose or evaluate the following conditions:

  • Check for problems with the patient’s bladder, prostate gland, and seminal vesicles.
  • Look for or find kidney stones.
  • Find or confirm the diagnosis of bladder tumors of the affected person.

Preparing the Patient for a Pelvic Ultrasound

To be able to perform a pelvic ultrasound efficiently, the patient must keep the bladder full of liquid and for them drink approximately 4 glasses of water, at least one hour prior to the evaluation.

It is necessary for the patient to comply with this requirement so that the specialist doctor can better evaluate the organs to be examined.

Additionally, the patient should wear comfortable clothing to remove as a gown will likely be required for the evaluation.

Procedure to perform a Pelvic Ultrasound

  • The evaluation uses a device called a transducer that transmits sound waves.
  • These sound waves bounce off organs and tissues, then echo back to the transducer.
  • The image generated by the waves and the transducer is projected on a screen.

In addition, the specialist doctor could carry out the study accompanied by the following tests:

Transabdominal ultrasound: performed by evaluating the abdomen. The patient lies on his back on an exam table and the technician puts some gel on the transducer and gently runs the transducer back and forth over the skin of the belly to visualize the image that the doctor requires.

Transvaginal ultrasound: performed through the vagina. The patient should lie on his back on an exam table and place the feet in stirrups. The transducer is gel-covered and a plastic or latex cover. It is then inserted into the vagina, just like a tampon.

Transrectal ultrasound: in men it is done through the rectum. The patient lies on their side, with their back to the technician, and the physician places a cover over the transducer. Then it goes into the rectum.

Doppler ultrasound: measures the speed and direction of blood as it flows through the arteries and veins in your abdomen. Your doctor may use this test to look for narrowing or blockages in your blood vessels.

Risks of a Pelvic Ultrasound

This type of study does not represent any risk to the health of the patient unlike X-rays that emit radiation.