Emerson Hospital
​​​A pelvic ultrasound provides pictures of the structures and organs in the lower abdomen or pelvis. There are three types of pelvic ultrasound tests: 
  • Transabdominal
  • Transvaginal (or endovaginal) for women
  • Prostate or transrectal for men
A Doppler ultrasound exam may also be part of your pelvic ultrasound exam. This is a special ultrasound technique that enables your doctor to evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs, neck, or within various body organs such as the liver or kidneys. 

Why pelvic ultrasound is performed

Pelvic ultrasound exams are frequently used to evaluate the reproductive and urinary systems in women and men.

Pelvic ultrasound is also used to guide procedures such as needle biopsies in which needles are used to extract a sample of cells from organs for laboratory testing.

What a pelvic ultrasound involves

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. If you are having a vaginal or rectal ultrasound, you may be asked to remove the clothing on your lower body and wear a gown during the procedure.

Transabdominal ultrasound

  • You will need to finish drinking 24 ounces of fluid (water, juice, coffee or tea) one hour prior to your exam. Be sure not to empty your bladder before your procedure; a full bladder pushes the bowel out of the way and helps transmit the sound waves for the ultrasound.
  • You’ll lie face-up on an exam table that can be tilted or moved, but you may be turned to either side to improve the quality of the images
  • A specially trained sonographer will apply a warm, clear gel to your abdomen; this helps the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets that can block the sound waves from passing into your body 
  • The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured
  • Once imaging is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin, and you may empty your bladder, and get dressed

Transvaginal ultrasound

  • You will need to finish drinking 24 ounces of fluid (water, juice, coffee or tea) one hour prior to your exam, but you will empty your bladder right before your exam 
  • Transvaginal ultrasound is performed much like a gynecologic exam and involves inserting the transducer into the vagina. The tip of the transducer is smaller than the standard speculum used when performing a Pap test. A protective cover is placed over the transducer, lubricated with a small amount of gel, and then inserted into the vagina. Only two to three inches of the transducer end are inserted. 
  • The images are obtained from different orientations to get the best views of the uterus and ovaries
  • Transvaginal ultrasound is usually performed with you lying on your back, possibly with your feet in stirrups similar to a gynecologic exam
  • If you have an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device), 3D imaging will be performed to determine the position of the device

Transrectal ultrasound

  • For a transrectal ultrasound, a protective cover is placed over the transducer. It is lubricated and then placed into the rectum.
  • You will usually lie on your side, facing away from the examiner, with your knees and hips slightly flexed
An ultrasound exam is generally a painless procedure, and a typical exam takes from 30 minutes to an hour. You’re free to resume all normal activities after your test.

To obtain test results

By law, this requires a signed medical records release form and photo identification. To make a request, please call:

To Schedule an appointment

To schedule an appointment for an ultrasound, please call 978-287-3003.