Ultrasound (or sonography) is a noninvasive radiologic (imaging) technique that uses sound (acoustic) waves to produce images of tissue structures. Over the past 50 years, tremendous technological advances have enhanced the quality and diversity of ultrasound equipment.
Ultrasound is useful in gynecology since pelvic structures (such as the uterus and ovaries) can be visualized fairly clearly (with high resolution). In general gynecologic situations, a transabdominal approach (with jelly on the belly and a full bladder) is often preferable. When very high resolution (detail) of the uterus and ovaries is required then the transvaginal approach (with an empty bladder) is usually preferable.
Transvaginal sonography is used routinely during infertility work.
Transvaginal ultrasound is invaluable during the course of ovulation induction since developing ovarian follicles can be measured with exquisite precision. These measurements of the ovarian follicles allow the infertility specialist to assess egg development, adjust stimulation medication doses, and determine when to trigger ovulation.
Transvaginal ultrasound is also able to assess the location of very early pregnancies. It can often identify a very early pregnancy within the uterine cavity, which is important since the incidence rates of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy located outside the body of the uterus) are higher in couples with infertility problems.
Available Case Reports
There are no known complications from a diagnostic transvaginal ultrasound examination. In fact, diagnostic ultrasound has been used extensively in gynecologic clinical practice for over 40 years without documentation of harm.