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Sonogram and Diagnostic Ultrasound

A sonogram is a picture shown on a video display terminal that is obtained by bouncing sound waves off an object. It is frequently performed by inserting a probe into the vagina. This harmless procedure, diagnostic ultrasound, shows the fetus in the uterus and makes it possible to obtain valuable information about the fetus such as how many weeks or gestational age, and if there are any abnormalities or unusual findings. For instance, tubal or ectopic pregnancy can be diagnosed and prompt treatment can be given thus avoiding a serious, life-threatening condition. Multiple pregnancies can be diagnosed early which increases the safety for the woman whether she chooses to continue or terminate the pregnancy.

Diagnostic ultrasound has been in use for more than 20 years. Improvements in real time imaging have made it possible to better see the anatomical structures and obtain significant physiological information. The use of the transvaginal probe has allowed a better understanding of early embryogenesis, the important first trimester of pregnancy.This is accomplished by evaluating key anatomical landmarks including visualization and measurement of the gestational sac, yolk sac, fetal pole, crown-rump length and detecting multiple pregnancies. In the second and third trimesters, organogenesis is complete and a thorough evaluation is undertaken which includes assessment of the adnexa, cervix, placenta, umbilical cord, amniotic membranes, amniotic fluid, fetal biometry and fetal anatomy. As a result of diagnostic ultrasound, elective abortions are being performed for abnormalities that are not compatible with life.

The development of high frequency transducers, transvaginal and abdominal, has literally produced a diagnostic revolution in gynecology and adds information on the size, location and physiology and possible pathology of every organ system of the pelvis. We use transvaginal ultrasound to evaluate pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, missed periods, adnexal masses, early pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy and the differentiation between ovarian and uterine tumors associated with pregnancy.

Special thanks to our Licensed Diagnostic Ultrasound Technologist at Women's Community Medical Clinic, for her contribution in the writing this section on ultrasound technology.

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