Pelvic Ultrasound

Ultrasound Services

Pelvic Ultrasound

What is a pelvic ultrasound?

Ultrasound utilizes a transducer to send and receive sound waves, and this information is used to create a real time image. As a result of this ability, and the safe application of sound waves (ultrasound), ultrasound is a leading diagnostic tool. There is no radiation associated with ultrasound.

Pelvic ultrasounds are a diagnostic exam used to assess internal organs in both men and women.

Female pelvic Ultrasounds – During a female pelvic ultrasound, a sonographer (ultrasound technologist) uses a transducer to acquire images of the internal soft tissue organs. These structures and spaces are documented for review by the doctor, a radiologist. Using these images, the radiologist will compile a report for the referring physician regarding the anatomy of that patient. Two methods can be used to acquire these diagnostic images. It is very important that the patient arrives for this exam with a full bladder as it allows for visualization of the pelvic organs. The ultrasound technologist will tell you if, and when, you can empty your bladder during the time of the exam.

  • Transabdominal (through the abdomen) ultrasound. A transducer is placed onto the abdomen/pelvis with a couplet gel that allows sounds waves to pass to and from the transducer.
  • Transvaginal (through the vagina). An endovaginal transducer with a sterile probe cover is inserted by the patient into the vagina. This can offer a view of the entire uterus and ovaries. This method is only used with the consent of the patient. The patient will be able to empty their bladder before the endovaginal ultrasound is performed.


The type of ultrasound performed depends on the reason for the ultrasound, and how well the anatomy can be visualized. Only one method may be used, or both methods may be indicated to provide the information needed for diagnosis or treatment.

Beam also has an initiative called the Intrauterine Assessment Program (IAP) that uses 3D ultrasound to evaluate IUD placement, both before and after insertion, to improve clinical outcome and management.

Male pelvic Ultrasounds – A male pelvis ultrasound allows for the observation of male pelvic organs including the bladder, prostate gland, surrounding blood vessels, and kidneys. This ultrasound is performed using only the transabdominal approach. It is very important that the patient arrives for this exam with a full bladder as it allows for visualization of the pelvic organs. The ultrasound technologist will tell you if, and when, you can empty your bladder during the time of the exam.

Frequently asked questions:

You may have been referred for a pelvic ultrasound by your care provider for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, swelling, pain, bleeding, or if abnormal test results indicate interrogation of the organs within your pelvic area. 

Drink a minimum of 24 ounces of clear fluid at least one hour before your appointment. Do not empty your bladder until after the exam.

You will need a full bladder to start the exam. This is necessary for proper visualization of the internal organs. If you are female and a transvaginal ultrasound is indicated, you will be asked to empty your bladder after the transabdominal portion is complete.

Your sonographer will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the exam.

For a transabdominal ultrasound (female and male)

You may be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that may interfere with the scan. If asked to remove clothing, you will be given a gown to wear. Most often, you will simply be asked to move your clothing to expose your lower abdomen/pelvis, while leaving your pants and shirt on. You will lie on your back on an examination table. A gel-like substance will be applied to your abdomen/pelvis. The transducer will be pressed against the skin and moved over the area being studied. You may empty your bladder when the exam is completed.

For a transvaginal ultrasound (female)

If you are having an endovaginal ultrasound you will be asked to change into a gown or undress from the waist down. You will lay down on the exam table with a sheet covering your lower body. The transducer will be covered by an endovaginal probe cover and sterile gel will be applied to the outside of the cover. The technologist will pass you the transducer, while keeping you covered, and you will be able to insert it yourself. Nothing about this process should be painful or uncomfortable for you so you will be encouraged to communicate with the sonographer if anything does bother you at all.

When a pelvic ultrasound is performed, there are little to no risks. However, patients may experience discomfort from the full bladder, or the pressure placed on their pelvic region from the transducer. This pressure is to allow for the sonographer to capture the best images of your internal organs.

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