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Pelvic ultrasound produces images of the organs and structures in the lower abdomen and pelvis.

Ultrasound is a safe and painless procedure that doesn't use X-rays. Instead high-frequency sound waves and their echoes are used to create images (or scans) of the inside of your body. The images are black, white and grey and are usually displayed on a TV screen.

Pelvic ultrasound can help identify abnormalities in the lower abdominal and pelvic organs such as kidney stones or bladder problems.

In women, pelvic ultrasound can help identify the cause of pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding and other menstrual problems. The scans can help diagnose and monitor ovarian cysts and fibroids in the womb, as well as ovarian and womb cancer.

In men, pelvic ultrasound can help identify abnormalities in the prostate and seminal vesicles (tubes that carry sperm).

Sometimes, ultrasound is used to help guide procedures such as needle biopsies. This is when a needle is used to take a small sample of tissue. The tissue is sent to a laboratory for testing. Your doctor uses ultrasound to see inside your body in real time and check the needle is reaching the correct tissue.

Your doctor may check for blood clots and narrowing of blood vessels during the scan. This is done using a Doppler ultrasound. Doppler ultrasound monitors flow in blood vessels. The procedure is the same as having a standard ultrasound.

About the procedure

The scan usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. You may be asked to change into a gown. The ultrasound scanner looks like a home computer system. There is a hard-drive, keyboard and a TV screen. In addition there is a sensor. The sensor sends out sound waves and picks up the returning echoes. Images of the inside of your body are displayed on the TV screen. These images are constantly updated, so the scan can show movement. The scan is usually performed by a radiologist (a doctor specially trained at ultrasound techniques).

Permanent copies of the scan are stored on computer or printed.

You will be able to go home when the scan is complete


The details of your scan may be explained to you immediately after the examination. Alternatively your results may be sent in a report to the doctor who requested your scan. This can take several days to reach your doctor.