Ultrasound or a sonogram is a procedure where sound waves are used to create images on the screen that can be measured or interpret for a diagnostic use in pregnancy and gynecological abnormalities. Ultrasound technology was introduced on the United States in 1950's and has been used routinely at this time to diagnose pregnancy, size and abnormalities of the pregnancy and the fetus, GYN problems like ovarian cysts and assist with therapy for infertility.
The vaginal probe is usually used to diagnose an early pregnancy and certain gynecological disorders. With this method, the vaginal probe is placed inside of the vagina. This procedure is not painful and usually performed on an empty bladder for patient's comfort and better visibility of the uterus and ovaries. The gestational sac can be visualized at about 4 weeks of gestation. A heartbeat can be observed on the Ultrasound at about 6 weeks of gestation. In the presence of bleeding in an early pregnancy, the Ultrasound is crucial to rule out Ectopic Pregnancy or an abnormal pregnancy like blighted ovum or a molar pregnancy. The measurement of the fetus would very accurately determine gestational age and project the expected date of delivery of a fetus.
The Ultrasound is indispensable in evaluation position of the placenta. It is crucial to diagnose placenta previa prior to delivery to avoid complications during labor. In patients with a previous C-section surgery, placenta localization is crucial to determine risks of surgical abortions or a vaginal delivery. It is important to understand that an Ultrasound is only one of the tools available in Prenatal Care to ensure a healthy and favorable outcome. Other factors like regular prenatal visits, blood tests, genetic counseling. The healthy diet supplemented with prenatal vitamins is as important and should be implemented as soon as pregnancy is suspected.
For the exam, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. In most cases, you will be asked to drink a quart of water before your exam to fill your bladder. A full bladder helps to locate the uterus, ovaries, and bladder during the exam. You will lie on an exam table, with your clothing moved away from the lower abdominal area. Warm gel is applied to make contact between your skin and the transducer. The sonographer then presses the transducer against the skin and sweeps it over the abdomen to obtain pictures.
Ultrasound using the vaginal probe method is more accurate to diagnose an early pregnancy and Ectopic Pregnancy.
Many abnormalities of the fetus can be determined by an ultrasound study which is routinely performed between 16 and 20 weeks of gestation.