What is the gynecological ultrasound scan?
The gynecological scan is a non- invasive, imaging test. It works by sending sound waves and by using dedicated software and equipment these waves are analysed and create the image on screen. This is an imaging technique by which we assess the cervical, womb and ovaries anatomy. A special, high frequency probe is used to enhance picture quality.
What is the purpose of the gynecological scan?
This scan is useful in examining the size, position and structure of the uterus (womb) and the adnexae (fallopian tubes and ovaries) to exclude any obvious abnormal conditions, or to diagnose the exact cause of a gyne condition.
How often should a gynecological scan be done?
This scan should be performed at least once a year as part of a complete gyne screening examination. It should always be performed alongside a gyne manual examination so that the imaging and clinical information are combined.
If in between the scheduled screening exam appointment a gyne issue emerges or if there is a known gyne condition that is being followed up, then more scans may be needed, he frequency of which depends on each condition's nature.
In what menstrual cycle phase should the scan be done?
It is peferable, but not necessary, to perform the scan during the beginning of the cycle, specifically in the first week after the period end, because at this stage the inner lining of the womb (endometrium) and the ovaries are seen clearer and, therefore, the examination is more accurate. It has to be noted however, that in emergency situation the scan can be done at any cycle stage, even during the menstrual period.
Is it preferable that the scan is done abdominally or vaginally?
The transvaginal scan is done by using a special, thin probe that is inserted into the vagina and reaches very close to the womb and the ovaries, thus producing a far better image than the abdominal scan. The transvaginal scan should be done after emptying the bladder so that the examination is more comfortable and the area anatomy is not distorted.
The abdominal examination is done by placing the probe at the lower part of the tummy. For this scan, preparation after drinking lots of fluids and keeping the bladder completely full is needed to optimise picture quality. It has to be said that the probe distance from the internal female organs, anatomical variations and the incomplete filling of the bladder have a negative effect on the picture quality. This approach is preferable for women that do not wish to have the vaginal scan, young girls that did not have yet intercourse, as well as older women with prominent vaginal atrophy and tightness. In all other cases, the vaginal scan is recommended as the most appropriate mode of scanning.
Is the scan dangerous? Will I hurt?
The gyne ultrasound scan does not use any radiation, only hugh frequency sound waves that are totally safe. The vaginal probe is disinfected before and after its use and is put into a special protective cover.
On the probe's cover, some gel is applied that helps the insertion in the vagina process. Penetration with the probe is done very gently so discomfort should be minimal. In studies done, it was shown that 95-99% of women report that this was a toleralbe and painless examination.
What is the gynecological Doppler scan?
This is a more detailed check, that assesses the blood flow pattern, used in case some concerns are raised. For example, in case a polyps, ovarian cyst etc is detected this examination can help us check the blood flow in the uterus and in the ovaries providing us with adittional information about the benign or not nature of the finding.
What is the gynecological 3D scan?
In case it is indicated, three dimensions (3D) visualisation of the internal female organs is performed, a technique that provides us with additional information. This mode of scan is particularly useful in case of congenital uterine abnormalities (such as heart- shaped, bicornuate, didelphys womb) and endometrial conditions (such as polyps or fibromas growing inside the womb). Our Practice is eqquiped with a high technology vaginal probe with 3D and 4D imaging capabilities.
Which conditions can be assessed by the gynecological ultrasound scan?
The thickness of the endometrium (the inner lining of the womb) can be measured, giving us valuable information about the phase of the menstrual cycle and about its repsonse in pharmaceutical treatment.
Endometrial polyps may be also detected, especially in combination with the 3D and Dopplers gyne scan information.
By doing a gyne ultrasound scan we can detect uterine fibromas. The position, texture, vasculature and dimensions can be precisely estimated.
The fallopian tubes normally cannot be seen in a gyne ultrasound scan. In various abnormal conditions however, when inflammation or water (hydrosalpinx) is present, the tubes enlarge and can be seen during the scan.
The gyne ultrasound scan is particularly useful when examining the ovaries. We are able to record their volume, constitution, to examine the follicles (eggs) and to detect cysts and masses (benign or not).
The gyne ultrasound scan can have an important contribution in the polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS) syndrome. A detailed assessment of the the eggs' morphology is importnat in order to establish a correct diagnosis. In our Practice, we offer the specialised SonoAVC technology that helps in clearly visualising the ovarian follicles, thus drawing safe conclusions about this syndrome diagnosis and management.
As part of a complete ovarian check, ovarian cysts can be detected and the nature and dimensions of them can be evaluated. The commonest findings include functional, endometriosic, dermoid and other benign ones.
The ultrasound can aid in distinguishing other abnormal conditions such as pelvic infections (with the presence of free fluid in the Douglas pouch).
Finally, the ultrasound contribution in identifying ectopic pregnancies is great, since it can distinguish an ectopic pregnancy in very early stages and can help in promptly treating this very serious condition.