So you’ve been recommended for a pelvic ultrasound… Let me tell you how it goes. While, some places may vary, I will let you in on what to expect.
First of all, RELAX. It’s not that bad, and your anxiety and stress will only make it more uncomfortable for everyone involved.
If you go to a hospital or imaging center for your ultrasound, mostly likely there will be two parts. A transabdominal ultrasound which is performed on your tummy and requires a FULL bladder (like doing the pee-pee dance full), the next being the dreaded (and sometimes SURPRISE!!!) transvaginal ultrasound that requires an EMPTY bladder.
“No one told me it would be internal!” “I read on the internet that you can do it on the outside, so why would I let you do a vaginal ultrasound?!” So, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like it when people come into my place of work and start whining, or telling me how to do my job. We don’t necessarily WANT to do a vaginal ultrasound, it’s our JOB. And it is necessary. The good news is that it usually doesn’t take long, and besides the leftover lubricant, you will probably forget all about it an hour later.
A transabdominal gives us a broad view of the pelvis, but not usually a detailed look. It varies greatly depending on a patient’s size and composition. Bowel gas is a troublemaker for ultrasound, we can’t “see” through the air, so that can make a big difference. This isn’t necessarily something you can help, I just want you to realize that there are many factors that affect how well we see the organs of interest.
A transvaginal exam is the detailed, close-up, view. The probe is abut the cervix (which is part of the uterus…) it allows us to see the uterus without overlying bowel gas getting in our way (most of the time). It also let’s us visualize the ovaries well enough to look at follicles, check for cysts and other fun things. While you’d think ovaries are just hanging out right next to the uterus with neon arrows pointing at them, they really don’t. They can be a huge pain to document clearly. Again, many factors, including the aforementioned bowel gas, can obstruct our view. We do our best though, and you should bare with us if we have to push down on your belly and look around a little longer than you’d like. We are trying to get the best images possible.
Let me also take a moment to explain again that this is our job. We don’t care if you haven’t shaved your legs or had a wax since 2005. We would prefer you to have showered at least recently, but even then, we will forget all about that smell as soon as we get the next patient. I have had people try to reschedule when they found out it was a vaginal ultrasound because they hadn’t properly groomed. Nope. WE DO NOT CARE. Most the time I don’t even notice anything about your grooming habits until you tell me about it. I am focused on doing what I need to do and that’s it. So again, just relax. Breathe.
The ultrasounds are usually “read” by a radiologist. Radiologist are doctors. Ultrasound technologists are not doctors. Yes, I know what I’m looking at when I’m scanning, no I cannot tell you what I see. Why? I am not paid enough to diagnose you or to be liable for a misdiagnosis. Harassing us to tell you what we see isn’t nice, and it’s distracting. Believe it or not, we are trying to concentrate while looking at your insides. Sometimes we can be chatty while scanning, but if we are not, it only means we are focused and trying to get the best images we can. It does not mean you are dying. Also, showing you your insides is not our priority, we are not tour guides. If we offer, cool, but don’t expect it. Ultrasound is not easy for people to interpret, trying to point things out is a waste of our time. Distracting us can make us miss something.
Once the radiologist or ordering doctor has the final report, you can get the results. Booyah!