Transabdominal Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a medical procedure in which high frequency sound waves are used to take images of your inner organs. It really helps diagnose the underlying causes of certain conditions. For instance, a pelvic ultrasound allows a doctor to take images of the female organs such as the ovaries cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes, as well as the images of male organs, including the prostate gland and seminal vesicles. There are three ways to do pelvic ultrasound – trans rectal, transabdominal, and transvaginal. For many reasons, doctors often opt for transabdominal ultrasound for pregnancy women. Keep reading to find out more about it.

What Is Transabdominal Ultrasound?

A form of medical ultrasonography, transabdominal ultrasound helps a physician take images of abdominal anatomical structures. The procedure makes use of ultrasound waves that pass through the abdominal wall and produce images of internal organs.

During the procedure, a handheld device called transducer will be passed back and forth over your abdomen. The transducer directs small pulses of high-frequency sound waves when your doctor presses it against your skin. There is a highly sensitive microphone in the transducer that recovers every change in the sound's direction and pitches when it bounces back after hitting internal organs and tissues. A computer will display these signature waves and creates a real-time image. It can also save small loops of the moving images.

When Is Transabdominal Ultrasound Needed?

In most cases, your doctor orders a pelvic transabdominal ultrasound when you're pregnant. This helps determine if the fetus is developing properly. It also proves effective in identifying causes of a woman's abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain and menstrual problems. Transabdominal ultrasound will also help your doctor to check your womb and ovaries for possible issues such as fibroids. An ultrasound may also help find causes of infertility in women.

How Is Transabdominal Ultrasound Performed?

You will have to lie face-up on a movable examination table. Your radiologist will apply a water-based gel on your lower abdomen to ensure the transducer makes a secure connection with your skin. There has to be no air pockets between your skin and the transducer for good results. When pressed against the skin, the transducer will emit sound waves that will be used by a computer to take images of the area of interest.

You don't usually feel any pain during your ultrasound examination. However, you may experience slight discomfort when the transducer moves over an area of tenderness. This is nothing serious though. Your radiologist will clean the gel after the imaging is complete. You can resume your normal activities immediately after the completion of your imaging test.

What Will Be Examined During the Transabdominal Ultrasound?

A transabdominal ultrasound allows your health care provider to have a closer look at different internal organs to make a better diagnosis. Here's what your doctor examines during the process.

1.  The Uterus

You may experience pain and discomfort due to certain disorders such as adenomyosis and uterine fibroid. Both these conditions will cause heavy and painful periods. Your doctor can confirm if you have these issues by having a look at your ultrasound report.

2.  The Lining of the Uterus

Also called the endometrium, it changes the appearance during your menstrual cycle. It is usually thin before ovulation and after you finish your period. Your ultrasound report will show if your endometrium is becoming thick for certain reasons. They can also identify an endometrial polyp that is responsible for causing abnormal vaginal bleeding.

3.  The Cervix

At the end of the uterus is your cervix, which is usually quite close to the tip of the transvaginal ultrasound probe. Your doctor can detect problems such as polyps or cervical fibroid, and cervical cancer through you ultrasound report. However, ultrasound cannot detect precancerous changes in your cervix though.

4.  The Ovaries

The appearance of your ovaries will change through your menstrual cycle. It is possible to see follicles of different size within the tissue of the ovary. An ultrasound will help notice the size and count the number of follicles that will prove beneficial during fertility treatments, such as IVF. So many other problems can affect the ovaries – the list includes polycystic ovaries, ovarian cysts, pelvic adhesionsand endometriosis.

5.  The Fallopian Tubes

The fallopian tube is very thin under normal circumstances, but it increases in size when blocked and filled with fluid. Your doctor will order transabdominal ultrasound to assess the condition of your fallopian tubes.

6.  The Kidneys

A transabdominal ultrasound will also review your kidneys to ensure you don't have any pelvic mass like a uterine fibroid obstructing the flow of urine.

After the Transabdominal Ultrasound

After the completion of your imaging test, a radiologist, who is a physical trained to conduct and interpret radiology exams, will read the images. They will analyze everything and give you a signed report for your primary care physician. Your physician will study the report and share the findings with you. Your radiologist may also share the findings of your ultrasound before you go to see your primary care physician.

In case something is not right or your doctor suspects something, you may have to come again for a follow-up exam. A follow-up exam is also necessary to get more information about a questionable finding. It also helps identify any change of a known abnormality found in the first test. Be sure to go for a follow-up transabdominal ultrasound as per your doctor's instructions. 

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