Ultrasound (GYN)

Medical issues that affect women are many, and they all call for specialized care. Women need to work closely with a medical professional who can guarantee quality healthcare for all women of all ages. Some of the women's issues that require specialized attention include ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, uterine sarcoma, and uterine fibroids, among others.

At GYN LA, we have a dedicated team that has excellent training and experience in handling all issues that affect women of all ages. The team here is well-trained in high risk, low risk as well as advanced gynecological surgeries and treatments. We ensure that Los Angeles women are enjoying a better quality of life. If, therefore, you are looking for a place where you will be treated with compassion, comfort, and confidence, get in touch with us.

Ultrasound Overview

An ultrasound is an imaging diagnostic method that makes use of high-frequency waves to produce images of the structures within a person’s body. The image produced can provide valuable information for the diagnosis and treatment of various conditions and diseases. Ultrasounds are usually done by an ultrasound device that is used outside a patient’s body. However, some are used inside a person’s body.

For many people, the mention of ultrasound only brings a picture of a pregnant woman in their mind. Ultrasounds are usually associated with pregnancy, whereby expecting parents get to peek at the baby growing inside the mother’s womb, and probably find out its gender. While fetal imaging is among the many uses of ultrasounds, this is a diagnostic tool that can be used in many other areas. It means that there are many reasons why gynecology would recommend an ultrasound to their patients.

Pregnancy Ultrasounds

Ultrasounds are conducted during pregnancy to take images of the developing baby and the mother’s reproductive organs. The number of ultrasounds a gynecologist will recommend varies from one pregnancy to the other. A pregnancy ultrasound helps monitor if the development of the fetus is healthy, and if there are any problems in its development.

During the first trimester, for instance, there is always a need to have an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy, examine the baby’s heartbeat, and also to estimate the baby’s due date. An ultrasound in the first trimester will also help check if there are multiple pregnancies, look at the condition of the mother’s ovaries, cervix and placenta as well as diagnose for an ectopic pregnancy. The results of such an ultrasound will help determine if the pregnancy will be viable or not.

An ultrasound is also critical during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. During this state, the ultrasound will help to:

  • To monitor the growth of the fetus and its position, whether cephalic, breech, optimal or transverse
  • To determine the baby’s gender
  • To confirm whether or not the mother is carrying multiple pregnancies
  • To check the placenta for any issues, like placental abruption and placenta previa
  • To check for any signs of Down Syndrome, especially between the 13th and 14th weeks
  • To check for any birth defects and other congenital abnormalities
  • To monitor the amounts of amniotic fluid
  • To check if the fetus is receiving enough oxygen and for any structural abnormalities as well as blood flow issues
  • To diagnose any issues with the uterus or ovaries, for instance, pregnancy tumors
  • To confirm the intrauterine death and measure the span of the mother’s cervix

Diagnostics Ultrasounds

Other than during pregnancy, ultrasounds are recommended by doctors to help diagnose a wide range of conditions that affect various organs and the body’s soft tissues. An ultrasound scan, for instance, can help diagnose an issue with the blood vessels, the heart, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, spleen, bladder, uterus, thyroid, testicles, and kidneys.

A Doppler ultrasound, for instance, is a test that could help estimate the amount of blood flow through a person’s blood vessels. It could help to determine how fast blood is flowing by measuring the rate at which it changes its pitch. The diagnosis of several conditions could be through a Doppler ultrasound. They are, for instance:

  • Blood clots
  • Blocked arteries or arterial occlusion
  • Dysfunctional valves in the legs, which could cause blood fluids and blood to pool in the legs, a condition called venous insufficiency
  • Defects on the heart valve and other congenital heart conditions
  • Decreased circulation of blood into the legs, called peripheral artery disease
  • Bulging arteries and narrowing of arteries, for instance, in the neck

Ultrasounds for Medical Procedures

Doctors use ultrasounds during medical procedures, for example, during needle biopsies. In such a process, the doctor is required to remove tissue from an exact location inside the patient’s body for testing in the lab. For that reason, an ultrasound could be used to guide the doctor on the precise location the tissue required should be removed. It helps eliminate any mistakes that could lead to a misdiagnosis.

Ultrasounds for Therapeutic Applications

Ultrasounds are also used for therapeutic applications, for instance, in detecting and treating soft-tissue injuries. It must be used with appropriate precautions, though, regarding dosage, for it to be useful in different therapeutic situations for the benefit of a patient. For a very long time, doctors have been using low-frequency ultrasound for such conditions as bursitis and tendinitis. Over time, this grew into the use of a higher-pressure ultrasound that could treat gallstones and kidney stones. Today, ultrasound can be used to break up kidney stones into tiny pieces, which the body can eliminate through the normal excretion process.

In addition to that, there are so many other applications of ultrasound therapy in modern treatments. These include:

For the ablation of uterine fibroids: Uterine fibroids are very common, and they do not manifest any symptoms. A doctor can recommend the use of a non-invasive, incision-less treatment technique such as Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound in the treatment of fibroids or fibroid tumors in a woman’s uterus

For phacoemulsification or cataract removal: Modern cataract procedures involve the use of high-frequency ultrasound devices. They can break up the cloudy lens into tiny pieces, which the doctor can gently remove from the eye through suction.

For cancer treatment: This applies to both malignant and benign tumors. Treatment of tumors such as these is possible with the use of a targeted high-intensity ultrasound. Doctors use lower frequency sound waves in such cases, and not the high-frequency sound that is used in diagnostic techniques. It is because the latter is applied for more extended periods. An MRI can be used to guide the ultrasound therapy and also target the dose directly to the affected cells.

Are There Risks to Ultrasounds?

Ultrasounds are generally safe, especially diagnostic ultrasounds which use low-intensity sound waves. For the time they have been in use, there have been no reported risks. However, even though ultrasounds are valuable tools in the medical sector, they have their set of limitations. Sound is not best known to travel through bone or air. It makes ultrasounds not so effective in imaging some parts of the body, especially those that are hidden behind bones or have gas. Ultrasound to the head or lungs may, for instance, not give you the expected results. To have a better view of these parts of the body, the doctor may require other imaging exams such as X-rays, CT Scans and MRIs

How to Prepare for an Ultrasound

For most patients, there is no need to prepare for ultrasounds. You can walk into the doctor’s office and get referred to a sonographer immediately, depending on the issue at hand. However, there could be exceptions, and some people might need prior preparation for the best results.

In case you are having a scan such as an ultrasound to your gallbladder, for instance, you may be required not to drink or eat anything for at least six hours prior to the exam as a person eats, their gallbladder contracts and becomes smaller. Again, refraining from eating decreased the amount of gas in the patient’s stomach, which makes it easy for the sonographer to see their organs better.

If you have a pelvic ultrasound, on the other hand, your doctor will want it conducted on a full bladder. For that reason, you will be required to drink at least six glasses of water two hours prior to the exam. You will not be allowed to use the bathroom until the end of the review.  When the bladder is full, it moves out from the pelvis and into the abdomen. It helps the sonographer to visualize the uterus and ovaries better.

Ultrasounds on young children might require extra preparation. When planning for an ultrasound, whether for you or your kid, it is essential to ask your physician if there are specific instructions you might need to observe. As for clothes, for instance, you may need to wear loose-fitting garments on the day of your appointment. The sonographer may want you to remove any jewelry you might be wearing. For that reason, it will be an excellent idea to leave all the valuables back in the car or at home.

Before the ultrasound procedure begins, you will be required to remove the jewelry as well as some of your clothes. Depending on the type of ultrasound you are having, the sonographer may ask you to change into a hospital gown. After that, you will be required to lie on the examination table.

The Procedure

To start the procedure, the sonographer will apply some gel on the skin above the part of the body that needs to be scanned. It helps to inhibit air pockets on that specific area, which might interfere with the sound waves, which create the pictures that the doctor requires. The gel used is usually water-based; therefore, it is quick to clean off after the procedure, even if it gets into your clothes. Note that this can only be performed by a trained sonographer, who is an ultrasound imaging expert.

He/she will then press a small device called a transducer over the area that is being examined and move it back and forth to record the imageries. The sensor will send sound waves into the patient’s body and collect the sound waves that come back — the sounds the device collect are then sent to the computer that generates the images.

As mentioned above, some ultrasounds could be done inside a patient’s body. In such a case, the sonographer inserts the transducer to a probe that goes into any natural opening of the patient’s body. An example of this is a transesophageal echocardiogram. It is the transducer that is inserted into a person’s esophagus to obtain heart images. Note that the sonographer usually does this after sedating the patient. There is also a transrectal ultrasound, which is used to capture the images of the prostate. In such an ultrasound, a specialized transducer is injected into the patient’s rectum. Lastly, there are transvaginal ultrasounds, in which a unique transducer is slowly injected into the patient’s vagina to obtain quick images of their ovaries and uterus.

Note that ultrasound examinations are usually painless though the patient could experience a little discomfort as the transducer moves back and forth over their body. It can be a bit more uncomfortable in cases where the sonographer is required to insert something into the patient’s body.

Generally, an ultrasound exam will take between 30 minutes and one hour. After the completion of the review, a radiologist, who is an expert in reading and interpreting images, will analyze your pictures and send his/her report to the doctor. You will be in a position to get back to your usual routine immediately after the ultrasound.

Find a Los Angeles Gynecologist Near Me

Women's issues are many. One may not know much about what they are experiencing until they speak to an expert in that area. That is why at GYN LA, we have the best trained and experienced medical providers offering quality health care for all types of women. Our dedication is ensuring accurate diagnosis for the best treatment and management of every disease or illness that we handle. If you have a gynecological issue that is worrying you, call us at 310-375-8446 for quality diagnostic ultrasound and the best full-service medical care.