This involves ultrasound assessment of the uterus, ovaries and the parts of the pelvis which are nearby. A filled bladder is optimal for this type of scanning, which you will be informed about at the time of booking. Your doctor will usually request a pelvic scan if they are concerned about your current health or are showing signs of certain health conditions such as abnormal bleeding or fibroids.
Ultrasound uses high frequency pulsed sound waves to produce images of the organs in the pelvis. Scanning will be performed both via the tummy, and with your consent via a vaginal approach.
What happens on the day
The timing of the scan is not critical but if the problem you are experiencing is heavy bleeding, then having the scan just after your period has finished is optimal.
When you arrive for your scan you will be asked to fill out a form about your gynaecological history to date.
The sonographer will then take you through to the scanning room.
You will be asked to lie on the table and expose your tummy. A towel will be tucked into your pants to limit spread of the gel onto your clothes.
Clear gel is applied to your tummy and the sonographer moves the probe over your tummy recording images. The sonographer may place their hands on your tummy to gently move the pelvic organs into better imaging positions.
The bladder and the kidneys will be examined for any unusual changes, such as obstruction, which may be due to diseases in the pelvis.
After we have scanned across your tummy, a vaginal scan is then performed (with your consent). A vaginal scan is generally required to enhance the detail of the uterus and the ovaries and to assess sites of pelvic pain. It gives us a much better picture of your uterus and ovaries. You will be able to see for yourself on our plasma screen monitors!
After emptying your bladder and wearing a gown you will lie on the bed and a special probe is positioned in your vagina. This has a sterile disposable cover. During this examination the vaginal probe is moved with varying pressure at different angles to obtain images of the uterus and ovaries.
After the scan, the sonographer will leave the room to review the images and to discuss them with the Radiologist or on-site Gynaecologist. Sometimes for clarification more images are required. This is nothing to be alarmed about.
Both methods of scanning whether across the tummy or through the vagina require some probe pressure and may be uncomfortable. It is rarely painful.
Occasionally there will be bleeding after a vaginal scan which should stop in 24 hours. If it does not stop, please see your local doctor.
Pelvic scanning has some limitations and so we may not be able to see everything we want to see. These limitations are commonly related to displacing the overlying bowel.
A pelvic scan can give us a lot of information about your ovaries and uterus
It can help determine why you might be experiencing such things as pelvic pain and pelvic bleeding.
If there is anything of clinical concern to us that we discover from your scan, we will talk to you about it on the day. This is very reassuring for you.
How reliable is an ultrasound scan?
An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. Sound waves are used instead of radiation which makes them safe. The sound wave travels through your skin and tissue to the area of interest and then travels back again to the probe to give us an image. It can be difficult to see anatomy in women with a large BMI. In women who are post-menopausal, it can be tricky to see ovaries as they tend to shrink as we get older.
Why have a Pelvic Scan at Women’s Imaging?
Our sonographers are trained to the highest standards to perform these specialist pelvic scans. All of our scans are checked by our in-house radiologist or gynecologist before you leave our practice. If there is any clinical concern about your scan we will come and discuss this with you.
How long will it take?
A pelvic scan takes approximately 45 minutes.
How should I prepare for the scan?
You should arrive for your scan with a filled bladder. We recommend that you drink 2 glasses of water a half hour before your scan time. Remember to bring your referral form with you. We will scan you across your tummy to start with and then we will send you to the toilet to empty your bladder completely for the vaginal scan.
Can I bring a friend along with me for my scan?
We are happy for you to bring a friend along with you. However due to the nature of the vaginal scan you may want privacy at that time.
We ask that women who have young children make arrangements to have them taken care of whilst you have your scan. Our sonographers need to concentrate on what they are doing and a crying child can be very distracting for them. We thank you for your understanding.
When will I get my results of my scan?
The full report of the scan will be with your doctor within 48 hours. If there is anything of major clinical concern that we uncover from your scan, we will come and speak to you on the day. There are lots of normal benign things that we see all the time. We do not ordinarily discuss these normal findings with patients.
Things you should know
- Please drink 2 glasses of water a half hour before your scan.
- A transvaginal scan (with consent) allows us to see your uterus and ovaries much more clearly
- If there is anything of significant clinical concern discovered from your scan, we will talk to you about it on the day. This is very reassuring for you.