Visit Preparation

Obstetrical Ultrasound (Pregnancy)

Obstetric Ultrasound is the application of medical ultrasonography to obstetrics, in which sonography is used to visualize the embryo in its mother’s uterus (womb). The procedure is often a standard part of prenatal care, as it yields a variety of information regarding the health of the mother and of the fetus, as well as regarding the progress of the pregnancy.

How is the procedure performed?

For most ultrasound exams, the patient is positioned lying face-up on an examination table that can be tilted or moved. A clear water-based gel is applied to the area of the body being studied to help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body.

The sonographer (ultrasound technologist) then presses the transducer firmly against the skin in various locations, sweeping over the area of interest or angling the sound beam from a farther location to better see an area of concern.

Sometimes the radiologist determines that a transvaginal scan needs to be performed. This technique often provides improved, more detailed images of the uterus and ovaries. This method of scanning is especially useful in early pregnancy.

Transvaginal ultrasound is performed very much like a gynecologic exam and involves the insertion of the transducer into the vagina after the patient empties her bladder. The tip of the transducer is smaller than the standard speculum used when performing a Pap test. A protective cover is placed over the transducer, lubricated with a small amount of gel, and then inserted into the vagina. Only two to three inches of the transducer end are inserted into the vagina. The images are obtained from different orientations to get the best views of the uterus and ovaries. Transvaginal ultrasound is usually performed with the patient lying on her back.

When the examination is complete, the patient may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.

This ultrasound examination is usually completed within 30 minutes.

How should I prepare?

You should wear a loose-fitting, two-piece outfit for the examination. Only the lower abdominal area needs to be exposed during this procedure.

In early pregnancy, Up to 10 weeks): empty your bladder 1.5 hours before your appointment, and then drink four 8 ounce glasses of water. Do not empty your bladder again until you examination is completed.

In mid pregnancy (10 – 20 weeks): empty your bladder 1 hour before your appointment and then drink three 8 ounce glasses of water. Do not empty your bladder again until your examination is completed.

In late pregnancy, (after 20 weeks), empty your bladder 1 hour before your appointment and then drink one 8 ounce glass of water. Do not empty your bladder again until your examination is completed.

If you have any questions or concerns about your visit to SMI, please call 1.306.477.1000.