What is an Abdomen and Pelvic Ultrasound Scan?
Ultrasound machine uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of the internal structures of the human body. The Abdomen and Pelvic Ultrasound scan is done to look at the internal organs, namely, the liver, spleen, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, the uterus and ovaries in a woman and the prostate in a man.


A subject undergoing an abdominal ultrasound scan

Is an Abdomen and Pelvic Ultrasound Scan safe?
Yes. It is non-invasive, i.e., no needles or injections, usually painless and uses no x-ray.

Why do I need Abdomen and Pelvic Ultrasound Scan?
This examination can help to detect many diseases such as stones in the gallbladder or kidneys, tumours and other pathology of the internal organs.

Who should have an Abdomen and Pelvic Ultrasound Scan?
Anyone who wants to know if their abdominal and pelvic organs are normal.

How is an Abdomen and Pelvic Ultrasound Scan done?
You will be taken to an ultrasound suite which is dimly lit. You will have to lie down on the ultrasound couch and uncover your abdomen. Transparent gel is applied on your abdomen. A transducer connected to the scanning machine is placed on your abdomen and moved around to see the respective organs. The transducer sends sound waves into your body.

These sound waves bounce off an organ like an echo. The ‘echo’ is sent to a machine that records the results on film and on a computer. You will not hear or feel the high frequency sound waves. There may be slight discomfort from pressure as the radiologist guides the transducer over your abdomen. You will be asked to remain as still as you can and to hold your breath when the images are taken.

How can I prepare for the Abdomen and Pelvic Ultrasound Scan?
You need to fast for six hours prior to the scan. You will need to keep a full bladder for ultrasound of the pelvis.

How long does an Abdomen and Pelvic Ultrasound Scan take?
It will take about 15 – 30 minutes depending on the complexity of the scan.

What happens after the scan?
There is actually nothing much to anticipate after the scan. You may return to your normal routine and diet.

Are there any possible complications?
For standard diagnostic ultrasound, there are no known harmful effects on humans.

What if my scan is abnormal?
If your scan is abnormal, your doctor may need another scan such as a computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis for further assessment. Other investigations such as a biopsy may be necessary depending on each case.

What are the limitations of Abdominal Ultrasound?
Ultrasound waves are reflected by air or gas, thus limiting the evaluation of the stomach and intestine. Intestinal gas may also prevent visualization of deeper structures such as the pancreas and aorta. Occasionally, small tumour may be missed.

Disclaimer: This is only general information. A doctor should be contacted if you need any medical advice or if medical decisions need to be made.