Dr. Beryl Benacerraf MD is a world renowned expert in the field of ultrasound and women’s imaging. He recently published a report in the April issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2015;212:450-455) that discusses the benefits of doing ultrasound first in nonpregnant women complaining of pelvic pain.
Many women complaining of pelvic pain will be assessed with a CT scan or MRI first. Ultrasound now has the capability of producing 3D/4D volume images of the female pelvis which can be of comparable quality and orientation to those of MRI and CT but do not expose females to radiation and costs much less.
Here is a nice example of how easily an endometrial polyp can be identified. (American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2015;212:450-455).
According to Dr. Benacerraf;
“Ultrasound technology has evolved dramatically in recent years and now includes applications such as 3-dimensional volume imaging, real-time evaluation of pelvic organs (simultaneous with the physical examination), and Doppler blood flow mapping without the need for contrast, which makes ultrasound imaging unique for imaging the female pelvis. Among the many cross-sectional imaging techniques, we should use the most informative, less invasive, and less expensive modality to avoid radiation when possible. Hence, ultrasound imaging should be the first imaging modality used in women with pelvic symptoms.”
Although ultrasound can detect appendicitis and kidney stones, a CT scan might be ordered first, particularly in an emergency department where CT scans are available round the clock.
Ultrasound is very dependent on having a good sonographer performing the scan. One fact you should be aware of is that in very large patients, ultrasound may not see the abnormality as readily as with a CT scan.
If you are having pelvic issues ask your doctor what would be the best approach knowing you now have these options available to you.