Because pelvic floor anatomy is so complex, ultrasound is a valuable, noninvasive diagnostic exam that can aid in the assessment of organs and structures within the female pelvis. These include not only the uterus, cervix, and vagina, but also the bladder, urethra, and rectum. Technical advances in ultrasound have enabled physicians to explore new areas in diagnostic imaging of the pelvic floor structure. In addition to transabdominal and transvaginal scans, urogynecological ultrasounds are also performed transrectally.
Some of the most common types of gynecological ultrasounds we perform include:
Anorectal Manometry (ARM)
A test performed to evaluate patients with constipation or fecal incontinence. This test measures the pressures of the anal sphincter muscles, the sensation in the rectum, and the neural reflexes that are needed for normal bowel movements.
Typically performed in patients with urethral symptoms such as painful urination, pain with sexual intercourse, urinary dribbling, recurrent urinary tract infections, urethral mass, or urethral obstruction. It helps to determine the cause of symptoms, and therefore, the best course of treatment.
Pelvic Floor Muscle
Pelvic dysfunction can be difficult to diagnose, especially on patients who have previously undergone surgical procedures. In some patients, digital palpation of the function and movement of the bladder and bowel can’t be completely understood without ultrasound. It aids in seeing to what extent organs in the pelvis “move” when a patient is asked to contract and relax certain muscles.
An examination that utilizes a specially designed rectal transducer. A small amount of fluid is put into the tip of the probe so that the surface of the probe is touching the inside of the rectum. This allows for better visualization of the tissue. It is a safe, painless procedure that provides additional information about rectal polyps, perianal infection, and sphincter muscle injuries.
After a bladder sling is placed, ultrasounds are sometimes ordered to verify the position of the sling. It is also used to help identify possible problems with previously inserted slings. This scan is typically performed transvaginally.
What to Expect During a Urogynecological Ultrasound
When your provider orders an ultrasound, you will receive a detailed handout that includes preparation information (for example, arriving with a full bladder), as well as answers to some commonly asked questions, such as:
How will my ultrasound be performed?
Depending on the specific reason your ultrasound is ordered, urogynecological ultrasounds are performed transabdominally, transvaginally, and/or transrectally. Transabdominal ultrasounds are performed with a small transducer that is moved back and forth across the lower belly. Transvaginal ultrasounds are performed with a transducer that is shaped specifically to fit into the vagina. Similarly, transrectal ultrasounds utilize a specially designed rectal transducer.
If I start my period, should I reschedule my ultrasound?
If you will be menstruating the day your ultrasound is scheduled, please call our office at your earliest opportunity so that we may determine whether or not you need to reschedule.
May I bring my family?
Often times, urogynecological ultrasounds are performed transvaginally and/or transrectally. Due to the intimate nature of this type of exam, children are not allowed in the exam room. If you like, you may bring one adult guest into the exam room with you.
When will I receive my results?
As with any test that is performed, your physician will discuss the results with you at your next appointment, or sooner if necessary. The sonographer does not interpret or report results.