What is a Gynaecological (Pelvic) ultrasound scan?

A gynaecological or pelvic ultrasound involves assessment of the female pelvic organs (uterus and ovaries). Both a transabdominal and a transvaginal scan will be performed in most cases. The best view of the pelvic organs is obtained with a transvaginal (internal) ultrasound scan.

What preparation is required?

No special preparation is required for a combined transabdominal/transvaginal scan, which is the majority of our gynae scans. However if a transvaginal scan is not appropriate for you, you will need to attend with a full bladder. The full bladder will push the bowel out of the pelvis, allowing the pelvic organs to be seen in most cases. Drinking 500mls of water at least one hour before your examination and then not emptying your bladder should result in a full bladder for the time of your scan.

Timing of your scan

The general ultrasound examination of the pelvis can be done at any time of the cycle, even when menstruating. However interpretation of the appearance of the ovaries and endometrium (lining of the womb) is best done immediately after your period, and ideally we would book your examination at that time.

What will happen during the examination?

Generally a transabdominal scan is performed first. Gel is applied to the lower abdomen so that the ultrasound probe can glide over the skin and allow visualisation of the pelvic organs.

A transvaginal (internal) scan involves a thin covered ultrasound probe being introduced a short distance into the vagina to view the uterus and ovaries. This is a simple and safe procedure.

The examination is similar to that of a pelvic examination. Most women find the transvaginal scan preferable and more comfortable than a transabdominal scan with a full bladder. The examination is typically completed in about ten minutes.

Transvaginal scans are not performed on young girls, those who have not been sexually active or those who choose not to have this type of scan.

Please let the sonographer know if a vaginal scan is not appropriate for you.

Are there any risks?

The vaginal ultrasound probes are sterilised and covered by a protective sheath for each patient.

Ultrasound scans utilise high-frequency sound waves. No confirmed adverse have been identified to date. No ionizing radiation is used.

After the examination

The images will be reviewed and reported by our radiologist. This can take up to 90 minutes. For your convenience we can generally deliver the imaging and report to your doctor by the next working day.