You often hear of ultrasounds in the context of a mother getting the first look at the baby. But that’s not all they can be used for. This powerful diagnostic tool revolutionized the field of healthcare by providing a safe and non-invasive method of visualizing internal organs and structures. But what can an ultrasound detect?
In gynecology, ultrasounds play a vital role in diagnosing various conditions, allowing us providers to detect and evaluate abnormalities.
We’ll take a close look at 9 gynecological conditions that can be discovered with an ultrasound.
What Can An Ultrasound Detect? 9 Conditions
Ultrasound imaging, also known as sonography, utilizes high-frequency sound waves to create real-time images of the body’s internal structures. It is a versatile diagnostic tool that produces detailed images without the use of radiation, making it safe for patients of all ages.
1. Ectopic Pregnancy
Ultrasound can detect the presence of an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, typically in the fallopian tubes.
- Fallopian tubes can’t support a pregnancy
- During an ectopic pregnancy, the fallopian tubes may rupture
- If the fallopian tubes rupture, this can have serious consequences.
- Prompt medical attention is crucial if an ectopic pregnancy is suspected.
2. Ovarian Cysts
Ultrasound is commonly used to evaluate ovarian cysts, fluid-filled sacs that can develop on the ovaries.
Ultrasounds can help determine:
- The size of the cyst
- The composition of the cyst
- The characteristics of the cyst
These are all vital elements that can be detected in an ultrasound.
3. Uterine Fibroids
Ultrasound aids in the diagnosis of uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths that develop in the uterus. An ultrasound helps us evaluate:
- The size of the fibroids
- The number of fibroids present
- The location of the fibroids
Want to learn more about uterine fibroids? Check out our previous article here.
Ultrasounds can detect signs of endometriosis, a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it. Signs of endometriosis include:
5. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Ultrasounds are commonly used to diagnose PCOS by visualizing the ovaries and identifying the presence of multiple small cysts. PCOS can result in a range of symptoms, including:
- Weight gain
- Excessive hair growth
- Mood changes
6. Endometrial Polyps
These polyps are typically noncancerous and vary in size, ranging from a few millimeters to several centimeters. The exact cause of endometrial polyps is not fully understood, but they are believed to result from an overgrowth of the endometrial tissue. Several factors can contribute to their development, including:
- Tamoxifen use
- Estrogen dominance
You may not have heard of this condition, but it’s an important condition that an ultrasound can detect. Ultrasounds can help diagnose adenomyosis, a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus grows into the muscular wall, causing symptoms such as:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Prolonged periods
- Severe cramps
- Pelvic pain
- Pain or discomfort during intercourse
8. Ovarian Tumors
Ultrasound aids in the detection and evaluation of ovarian tumors, including both benign and malignant growths. The symptoms largely depend upon the size of the tumor, but in general, they include:
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Bloating or swelling
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Frequent urination
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
9. Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Ultrasound can help diagnose pelvic congestion syndrome, a condition characterized by chronic pelvic pain due to enlarged or varicose veins in the pelvis.
Women who have had multiple pregnancies, hormonal imbalances, or a history of blood clots are more prone to developing PCS. The primary symptom of PCS is a dull, aching pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis that may worsen after long periods of standing or sitting.
What Can an Ultrasound Detect? We Have the Information You Need at Chapel Hill OBGYN
We’ve outlined just 9 of the conditions that an ultrasound can detect. As the leading OBGYNs in Chapel Hill and Durham, we have a strong tradition of providing the best in compassionate and comprehensive medical care for patients of all stages of life.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above for any of these conditions, an ultrasound can help us diagnose and treat your condition. Don’t hesitate to contact us and begin your journey to wellness.