transvaginal_ultrasoundIf your doctor has scheduled an invasive ultrasound, you’re most likely asking yourself, “What does this mean?” At this point, your mind is racing with all sorts of thoughts- Is something wrong with my baby, Why do I need this procedure, and Are there any risks? There are many reasons that would constitute your obstetrician scheduling such a procedure. During early term pregnancies, an invasive ultrasound is often the only way to get a clear picture of what is happening within your body as the fetus is too small to be visible during a regular ultrasound. If your doctor has concerns regarding your due date or your medical history, he or she may order this procedure to ensure there are no complications.

An invasive ultrasound, also called a transvaginal ultrasound, is a safe and simple procedure. Similar to a regular, surface ultrasound, this procedure works by emitting sound waves from a wand called a transducer into your uterus. These sound waves bounce back and return to the machine, forming a picture on the monitor. The only difference between a transvaginal and a surface ultrasound is the shape and location of the transducer. During an internal ultrasound, the thin transducer wand is placed within the vagina instead of being swept across the abdomen. Due to the placement of the wand, this form of procedure is best suited for early term pregnancies, particularly before the ten week mark, as it is able to give a clearer picture of the miniscule fetus.

One of the most common reasons for an obstetrician scheduling this early stage procedure is history or concern of an ectopic pregnancy. If you have previously had an ectopic pregnancy, or someone in your direct family has experienced one, then it is likely that your doctor will want to rule out this complication immediately. Ectopic pregnancies can be life-threatening for a woman, which means early diagnosis is imperative. If another test comes back inconclusive or abnormal, your doctor may want to run further tests. An internal ultrasound is a rare opportunity to ensure that your growing fetus is safe, healthy, and correctly placed. This form of ultrasound is also great for double checking the placement of the placenta, as well as correctly identifying the number of fetuses.

While the description of the procedure may sound uncomfortable, rest assured- it is painless. If safety for your unborn child is your concern, know that your doctor will not suggest anything that would put your baby at risk. Invasive ultrasounds emit no radiation and pose no known risks to the mother or fetus; they have been used consistently since their inception in the 1980s with no documented side effects or safety concerns. An invasive, or transvaginal, ultrasound can be an important tool in the development of your baby and the treatment of any complications that may arise. If you have concerns or questions about the procedure, your obstetrician is your best resource and ally. It is important to keep in mind that your doctor will only order a procedure that they feel is necessary in the successful treatment of you and your baby.

This post was written for Mums the Word by Glenn Josephik. Glenn is an account representative and the marketing coordinator at MedCorp LLC, the industry leader and premier business source for used portable ultrasound systems. You can follow Glenn Josephik on Google+.