Gynecological ultrasound is a purely non-invasive, imaging method that makes it possible to check the internal structures and organs of the body. The ultrasound sends ultra-high frequency sound waves, which are absolutely safe for the patients and do not burden them with radiation.
Frequent uses of gynecological ultrasound
The most frequent uses of ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology are as follows:
Ultrasound is the most widely used method during pregnancy. Initially they confirm the presence of pregnancy (even 17 days after ovulation), and later they are used together with other special blood tests to detect any genetic abnormalities (Nuchal Translucency Screening) or to confirm that the baby does not have anatomical abnormalities (Level 2 testing).
At the same time, through gynecological ultrasound it is possible to confirm that the embryo develops correctly (Doppler), as well as to have an accurate picture of the amount of amniotic fluid, the baby’s position and placental position. All of the above is essential to ensure a safe pregnancy.
By means of ultrasound in conjunction with special blood tests, an ectopic (extrauterine) pregnancy can be diagnosed, i.e. the pregnancy in which the fetus attaches outside the uterus, usually within the fallopian tubes or at other parts of the abdomen.
Gynecological ultrasound is used to confirm the healthy condition of the genital organs, as well as to diagnose conditions for which no symptoms have yet manifested, e.g. ovarian cysts, endometrial polyps, endometrial hyperplasia, anatomical abnormalities, polycystic ovaries, tumors of the internal genital organs, etc.).
Gynecological ultrasound is one of the most important ways of evaluating a woman’s ovarian health, as well as that of the endometrium. In addition, it is an indispensable tool for any assisted reproduction therapy.
Ultrasound is used in various invasive methods such as amniocentesis, egg retrieval, embryo transfer, artificial insemination, and other abnormalities of the uterine cavity.
Gynecological ultrasound can be performed either abdominally or transvaginally. Women who have sexually active are preferably examined by transvaginal ultrasound as it ensures greater clarity. The ultrasound records the size, the body and texture of the uterus and the thickness of the endometrium, as well as the size and texture of the ovaries. In case of pregnancy, the ultrasound is mainly performed abdominally and, in some cases, transvaginally (e.g. in the first trimester).
Ultrasound is necessary at least once a year in the context of you annual gynecological checking, in conjunction with a comprehensive gynecological examination. In case of detection of a gynecological problem or of monitored pre-existing gynecological conditions, one or more ultrasounds are usually needed (their number is determined on a case-by-case basis).
In pregnancy, the first ultrasound is scheduled approximately at week 6 and is to be repeated sometime in the first trimester. Between the 11th and 14th weeks of pregnancy, a Nuchal Translusency Screening is performed, which, together with the corresponding blood tests, reveals the chances of the embryo presenting any genetic abnormalities or syndromes. The next ultrasound is that of the second level, which takes place between the 20th and the 22nd week. The second level examination checks in detail the anatomy of the fetus and detects any abnormalities. Subsequently, one or two Doppler ultrasounds are performed between week 28 and week 34, which help monitor weight, position and rate of embryo development, the volume of amniotic fluid and placental status.
The frequency of ultrasounds is increased and personalized in cases of twin or multiple pregnancies or pregnancies experiencing fetal development problems.
No special preparation is required before a gynecological ultrasound is performed. It can be done at any stage of the cycle and the necessary prerequisites are for the bladder to be empty and for no medication to be taken before testing.