Mention a sonogram, and people usually associate it with seeing a picture of an unborn fetus in the womb. It’s in a sonogram that you can detect the gender of a baby. But sonograms are useful in other ways as well and help our doctors make a diagnosis of internal problems you may be experiencing. A sonogram, also called a sonograph, refers to any picture of an internal organ taken with ultrasound technology.
The image, or sonogram, is generated through the process called ultrasonography. The technique relies on high frequency sounds to create the picture, thus there’s very little difference between a sonogram vs ultrasound; both are needed to complete the procedure. The sonogram is the image, the ultrasound is the technology used to create the image. While the terms carry different meanings, they often are used interchangeably to refer to the same procedure.
Varying Types of Procedures
Your OBGYN has access to a number of different ultrasound techniques to generate sonograms:
Transvaginal tests rely on a specially designed probe that is inserted inside your vagina to produce a vaginal sonogram. This procedure may be performed for a variety of reasons:
- You’re in the early stages of a pregnancy.
- You’re experiencing pelvic pain and the cause isn’t easily recognized.
- You may have an ectopic pregnancy (where the fetus is forming in one of your fallopian tubes).
- Your New York gynecologist is looking for fibroids or cysts.
- You have vaginal bleeding that can’t be explained.
- You’re suffering from infertility and want to know why.
- You’re trying to place an IUD
Standard ultrasound creates a 2D sonogram. It relies on the gel and wand to create the image. It’s also the most common test used to create a pelvic sonogram to look for abnormalities in your vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes or ovaries such as:
Performed When Necessary
The sonogram gives your physician just one more tool for diagnosing pregnancy complications and other abnormalities in your reproductive system. Insurance usually pays for an ultrasound when it’s medically necessary.
When it comes to discerning more complicated issues in your reproductive organs that don’t have anything to do with a pregnancy, however, a sonogram can prove invaluable. With the exception of the internal vaginal probe, the ultrasound is entirely non-invasive and carries no known risks. As with any internal exam, however, the risk of infection always is present, which is why you need to allow only your trusted OBGYN and their team at the Midtown gynecology clinic to perform internal tests that demand equipment sterility.
No Pain, Lots to Gain
Sonograms are ideal for diagnosing problems that can be treated right away. Sometimes, you may have to return for a follow-up ultrasound to make sure the prescribed treatment is working sufficiently. Additionally, ultrasounds may be necessary if the images showed suspicious signs that your doctor wants to verify.
There is no pain associated with standard and Doppler ultrasounds. In fact, the gel actually may tickle your belly if you are sensitive. A vaginal sonogram test shouldn’t hurt either. It will feel no more uncomfortable than a normal gynecological examination.
Benefits of the Sonogram Technology
Getting a sonogram is virtually risk-free and painless with no side effects. And the benefits can be significant when it comes to diagnosing problems and getting the best views possible of your anatomy.
- You don’t have even the minimal risks associated with X-rays, and yet sonograms can discern urinary and reproductive complications.
- Sonograms typically are quite a bit less expensive than more traditional imaging procedures like MRIs and CT scans.
- A pelvic sonogram is effective for both male and female patients to discover urinary tract disorders.
- You get real-time imaging that can be printed or stored as continuous video.
- The procedures are widely used, accepted and available.
- Ultrasound usually provides a clearer picture of soft tissues than most X-rays.
- No recovery period is necessary following an ultrasound.
Nothing, however, is perfect. Ultrasound tests are difficult to perform on obese people because significant layers of fat may interfere with the imaging tools, making it harder to get a clear picture of organs that also may be obscured. Ultrasound also is sensitive to gas and air, so it’s not particularly effective for diagnosing problems with organs that may be surrounded by or filled with air or gases.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult ob/gyn doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified gynecologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Dr. Fernando Mariz has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.
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