Diagnostic Ultrasound

A diagnostic ultrasound is a test that uses ultrasound (high frequency sound waves) to produce images of a fetus or an embryo. It is also used to view the pelvic organs, tissues and structures. These images are then reviewed by a gynecologist to identify or diagnose potential problems.

When used to view a developing fetus, diagnostic ultrasound can be very exciting for a patient, their partner and family. However, sonographers, who are the professionals who perform these exams, must be highly focused to do their job well. It is important for you and your family to recognize this need to focus and provide the best exam possible for you.

To Prepare for a Diagnostic Ultrasound
If you are in your first trimester of pregnancy or require a gynecologic ultrasound exam for another reason, you must arrive with a full bladder. If the ultrasound is scheduled after the first trimester, you do not need a full bladder.

About the Exams
Transabdominal Ultrasound

  • You will lie on your back on an exam table
  • A non-staining gel will be applied to your abdomen
  • The sonographer or your gynecologist will glide a device called a transducer across your abdomen and images will appear on a screen.

Transvaginal Diagnostic Ultrasound

  • You will lie on your back on an exam table
  • In contrast to a transabdominal ultrasound, the transducer is inserted into your vagina instead of on your abdomen.
  • The transducer has a protective cover over it and most women find it less uncomfortable than a pelvic exam or pap smear

Note: Sometimes both a transabdominal and a transvaginal scan are needed in order for your gynecologist to view all pelvic structures clearly.