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A Gynaecological scan is an ultrasound test to examine conditions affecting the organs in a woman's pelvis - the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It helps your doctor to investigate some conditions and symptoms like abnormal bleeding or fibroids.
Scanning will be performed both via the tummy and, with your consent, via a vaginal approach.
An ultrasound scan is a diagnostic tool used for imaging abnormalities in the body including in the gynaecological area. It uses an ultrasound probe called a transducer, which is placed against the woman’s skin and high-frequency ultrasound pulses are beamed into their body. These ultrasound waves are reflected from tissue interfaces which are then picked up by the ultrasound probe and converted into a picture. Unlike X-ray imaging which relies on differences in density, ultrasound depends on reflection from tissue interfaces.
With regard to the uterus, some of the common problems that ultrasound scanning can pick up are fibroids, which affect approximately 20-30% of the population Fibroids are benign growths in the uterus and may give rise to heavy bleeding which we call menorrhagia or they may grow large and compress adjacent organs.
Adenomyosis is where cells from the lining of the womb migrate into the muscle of the womb causing heavy bleeding and painful periods. Again, this condition can also be imaged using ultrasound. A further important application of ultrasound in gynaecology is imaging the lining of the womb. There are a few diseases that can affect this, some of them are benign, but in other cases, malignancy can affect the lining of the womb. Transvaginal scanning can measure the width of the lining of the womb and determining whether this is abnormally thickened. If picked up early, cancer of the lining of the womb, i.e. endometrial cancer can be readily cured.
Another important application of gynaecological ultrasound is in the assessment of the ovaries. Benign ovarian cysts occur commonly in the ovaries and may give rise to symptoms and are readily detectable by ultrasound. Ovarian cancers can be detected by ultrasound and benign tumours of the ovaries. With regard to malignancy, the earlier that cancers are picked up the easier they are to treat. Stage I cancer of the ovaries for example (that is the earliest stage) has a cure rate of around 90%. As the stage at which the tumour is found gets later, the cure rate goes down. It is therefore vital that if women have symptoms that may in any way be related to ovarian pathology (or for that matter any gynaecological symptoms), they get a rapid ultrasound examination.
The UK have poorer rates of cancer survival when compared to many other countries, mainly due to delay in diagnosis. This partly relates to our healthcare system which is very much queue related. There are many examples in this country of people who just simply wait too long to have a relevant diagnostic test. In fact, in the UK we are one of the poorer performing countries in the western world in terms of delays in people getting diagnostic tests. If you have gynaecological symptoms, you should insist on having the relevant tests as rapidly as possible. One thing to bear in mind concerning ultrasound of the pelvis and, in particular, transvaginal scanning, is that it needs to be carried out by an experienced sonographer as it is an operator-dependent investigation, in other words, the skill of the sonographer is relevant to the accuracy of the scan.
You may need to have a full bladder for this scan. This acts as an ultrasound window and allows for better visualisation of the pelvic organs. But don’t worry, you can empty your bladder immediately following the scan.
To check for abnormalities such as polyps, cysts, and fibroids and assess your ovaries or uterus we may perform a transvaginal scan. The procedure is painless and involves the insertion of a small probe (similar in size and shape to a tampon) into your vagina.
There are two main techniques of ultrasound used in gynaecology. One of these is a scan where the ultrasound probe is placed over the pelvis using the bladder as a window and the uterus and ovaries are visualised through the bladder. This full bladder technique is useful but suffers from some lack of resolution problems particularly in relation to ovarian analysis.
A longitudinal probe is passed into the vagina in the region of the cervix and the probe is moved transversely to show the uterus and ovaries. This technique gives much more accurate information regarding the uterus and ovaries and of the womb.
- to assess pelvic organs,
- to diagnose and manage gynecologic problems including endometriosis, leiomyoma, adenomyosis, ovarian cysts and lesions,
- to identify adnexal masses, including ectopic pregnancy,
- to diagnose gynecologic cancer
- in infertility treatments to track the response of ovarian follicles to fertility medication (i.e. Pergonal). However, it often underestimates the true ovarian volume.
The sonographer will be able to tell you the results of the scan at the time of visit. You will also get a detailed ultrasound report to file with your health records.
The scan results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario. Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.
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