What is a pelvic ultrasound scan?

A pelvic ultrasound scan aims to visualise the organs of the pelvis, including the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and bladder.

An ultrasound scan is a method of obtaining images of almost any part of the body. It works on the principle of reflection of high-frequency sound waves at interfaces between tissues of different density. It does not use any radiation and is safe for children and pregnant women.

Ultrasound scanning is performed by a specifically trained sonographer, who uses the ultrasound machine to obtain images on a screen, usually in black and white. These images are stored electronically and can be printed out for viewing, but most of the information is gained by an experienced sonographer during the actual examination.

How is a pelvic ultrasound performed?

Pelvic ultrasounds can be performed in two ways:


A trans-abdominal ultrasound is performed in much the same way as an ultrasound of the abdomen. A full bladder is essential. You will be required to drink a litre of water approximately 30 to 60 minutes before your scan, change into a hospital gown, and not pass urine until after the scan. The ultrasound probe is pushed against your lower abdominal wall and looks down into the pelvis.


A trans-vaginal ultrasound is performed with an empty bladder, usually following a trans-abdominal scan. It uses a thin probe inserted into the vagina. This allows more detailed information to be obtained by having the probe closer to the pelvic organs.

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Why would you need a pelvic ultrasound?

Pelvic ultrasounds are routinely performed in pregnancy in order to confirm gestation, screen for risk of congenital abnormalities in the first trimester, and screen for anatomical abnormalities later in pregnancy.

Ultrasound of the pelvis is also a common test for abdominal or pelvic pain in women, and may be useful to investigate for ovarian cystsendometriosis, and abnormalities of the uterus.

Test results explained

Pelvic ultrasound results are usually forwarded to your doctor for interpretation and explanation. The sonographer may communicate some of the scan findings during the actual examination.

Related specialists

Related procedures

  • Laparoscopy
  • Laparoscopic Surgery
  • Amniocentesis
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
  • External Cephalic Version (ECV)

Related tests

Also known as

  • Pelvic Ultrasound
  • Pelvic Sonography
  • Pelvic Sonogram
  • Pelvic Sonar
  • Pelvic US
  • Pelvic U/S
  • Pelvic USS



A: Use HealthEngine to find and book your next Obstetrician appointment. Click on the following locations to find a Obstetrician clinic in your state or territory.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.

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