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What is a Pelvic Ultrasound?

The terms sonogram and ultrasound are often used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two:

  • An ultrasound is a tool used to take a picture.
  • A sonogram is a picture that the ultrasound generates

Sonograms have a varied number of applications, but most people know about them from their safe use during pregnancy and an Ob/Gyn exam. But since it shows any hollow organ in real time, it is also used during surgery to help make many procedures much safer. Ultrasound does not use radiation and can be performed even when you are pregnant.

The Ultrasound and Pregnancy

Ultrasound has become a vital diagnostic tool that not only confirms pregnancy but can diagnose problems as well. No evidence of harm or long-term effects have been found in mothers or babies.

There isn’t a minimum or a maximum number of abdominal sonograms that you should get during pregnancy. Other than the one or two you can get to confirm pregnancy and look for any abnormalities, most healthy pregnancies do not require more.

High-Risk Pregnancies

High-risk pregnancies may require more frequent ultrasounds if your gynecologist suspects something specific. Then you may get a vaginal ultrasound. Indications for an obstetric ultrasound are classified according to the trimester.

woman holding positive pregnancy test

First trimester

  • Confirmation of pregnancy
  • Confirmation of heartbeat
  • Calculation of normal gestation
  • Diagnosis of abnormal gestation
  • Diagnosis of initial complications (ectopic or molar pregnancy)
couple holding hands in heart shape

Second trimester

  • Diagnosis of malformations or structural abnormalities
  • Diagnosis of multiple pregnancy
  • Diagnosis of intrauterine fetal death
  • Visualization of amniotic fluid level
  • Confirmation of fetal well-being
African American woman holding two baby booties on belly

Third trimester

  • Location of placenta
  • Visualization of fetal presentation
  • Diagnosis of uterine or pelvic abnormalities

Is a Pelvic Ultrasound Safe?

Pelvic ultrasound is one of the safest diagnostic procedures available.

Benefits

Ultrasounds can be performed at any point during pregnancy, and there are no side effects to the procedure. It has numerous benefits:

 

  • Being able to safely confirm pregnancy.
  • Diagnose maternal and fetal abnormalities, and see fetal well-being.
  • Hearing the baby’s heartbeat, knowing the gender, and seeing it move are highly rewarding to future parents.

Risks

Numerous studies confirm that ultrasound doesn’t present any risks.

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