When it comes to women’s healthcare, ultrasound technology is an invaluable diagnostic tool. Also known as sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, ultrasounds give physicians a safe, non-invasive way to take a look at the structures inside your body. Although ultrasounds are most often used to monitor fetal development throughout pregnancy, they’re also used to shed light on a variety of women’s health issues unrelated to pregnancy. The experienced team of obstetricians and gynecologists at Plano Texas Gynecology & Obstetrics Associates offer ultrasound diagnostic services to women in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.
What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a type of imaging technology that uses high-frequency sound waves to look at the structures inside your body, including your organs. It involves the use of a hand-held device known as a transducer, which sends sound waves through your body, where they come in contact with organs, tissues, fluids, and bones. Much like echoes, the sound waves bounce back. When the transducer receives the echoes, it turns them into images that can be viewed on a video screen. The two ultrasound methods are:
Transabdominal: After a gel is applied to the surface of your skin, the transducer is moved across your abdomen. Before a transabdominal ultrasound, you may be asked to drink several glasses of water so that you have a full bladder which helps the technician see your internal structures more clearly.
Transvaginal: During a transvaginal ultrasound, a wand-shaped transducer is covered in a latex sheath, lubricated, and inserted into your vagina. An empty bladder is recommended for this test.
How are ultrasounds used in women’s health care?
Ultrasound is the main tool for monitoring fetal development during pregnancy. It’s used to view fetal position, movement, and heart rate, estimate the size and gestational age of the fetus, and view the amount of amniotic fluid and location of the placenta, among other things.
Ultrasounds are also used to help diagnose or treat common gynecological health issues. The technology can help your doctor evaluate, diagnose, and treat a mass in the pelvic region, such as an ovarian cyst or a uterine fibroid. It’s also useful when looking for unknown causes of pelvic pain or abnormal bleeding, diagnosing fertility problems, monitoring infertility treatments, and locating an IUD for removal.
Do ultrasounds pose any health risks?
The low-frequency sound waves used by ultrasounds are considered safe, in that there are no known health risks. Presently, no links have been found between ultrasounds and birth defects, premature birth, developmental problems, or childhood cancer. Because it’s always possible that negative effects may be identified in the future, it’s recommended that ultrasounds only be performed as needed, and nonessential ultrasounds should be avoided during pregnancy.
Your doctor can answer any questions or address any concerns you may have about ultrasound testing.
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