Pelvic and Bladder Ultrasound (Sonogram) for Evaluation of Urinary Problems in Men and Women
Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a board-certified urologist in NYC who specializes in treating men and women with urinary problems including frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, urinary urgency and incontinence.
Urodynamics studies are performed in our offices by appointment.
What is Pelvic/Bladder Ultrasound?
Pelvic and bladder ultrasound refers to an imaging modality used to visualize the internal organs located in the pelvis that include the urinary bladder. A sonogram is another word for “ultrasound”.
In men, the pelvis also houses the prostate gland. In women, the pelvis houses the uterus and ovaries.
Ultrasound imaging (also known as diagnostic sonography) utilizes inaudible high-frequency sound waves to reconstruct images of internal organs on a TV monitor. A pelvic / bladder ultrasound produces pictures of organs and structures in the lower abdomen and pelvis. It is used to evaluate the reproductive and urinary systems in both men and women. A pelvic / bladder ultrasound is a safe, painless, and noninvasive test. There is no radiation exposure with ultrasound tests. Ultrasound studies can also be performed during pregnancy as they are considered safe.
A bladder ultrasound allows the urologist to evaluate the urinary bladder. The test provides information about the amount of urine in the bladder or the presence of stones. It also estimates the thickness of the bladder wall.
A pelvic ultrasound can be one of three types – an abdominal ultrasound (performed in both men and women), a transvaginal ultrasound (performed in women), and a transrectal ultrasound (usually performed in men).
In men, a Uroflow study is often performed in combination with a pelvic ultrasound. The Uroflow test measures the flow of urine. It assesses how well the urinary tract is functioning.
How is a Pelvic / Bladder Ultrasound Performed?
In most cases, you will be asked to lie face up on the examination table. The test begins with the application of a water-based non-staining gel to the skin. A small probe or transducer that resembles a microphone is then placed directly onto the skin surface. The gel helps the transducer make good contact with the skin and also helps the sound waves penetrate the body. The ultrasound probe is pressed up against the skin and gently moved over the area being assessed.
A computer analyzes the sound waves that are echoed back and generates a real-time image of the internal organs. This image is immediately visible to the person performing the ultrasound. Unlike x-rays and CT scans, there is no exposure to radiation with an ultrasound. The test usually takes 20-30 minutes to complete. There is no pain associated with ultrasound testing.
A transvaginal ultrasound is similar to a gynecologic exam. You will be asked to empty your bladder. The ultrasound transducer, which is smaller than the speculum used for a Pap test, will be lubricated and inserted gently into your vagina. This allows the doctor to evaluate the bladder which is positioned behind the vagina. Other pelvic structures such as the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries can also be assessed.
For a transrectal ultrasound, you will be asked to lie on your side with your face away from the examiner. Your knees and hips will be slightly bent. The test is performed with a protective cover placed over the ultrasound transducer. The transducer is lubricated and gently inserted into the rectum. This allows the doctor to evaluate the prostate gland which is situated right in front of the rectum.
For a Uroflow study, you will be asked to urinate into a funnel or special type of toilet bowl that is connected to an electronic meter. This meter measures and records the flow of urine. The test results are available right away.
What is the preparation for a Bladder ultrasound?
There is no special preparation for a pelvic / bladder ultrasound other than to “have a full bladder”. It is a good idea to dress comfortably. You can eat and drink normally on the day of the test.
You should avoid urinating for a few hours before the test so that you have a fairly full bladder when you arrive at the urologist’s office. This can also be achieved by drinking 6-8 glasses of water 1-2 hours before the test. A full bladder helps to obtain better and more useful ultrasound images.
Ultrasonography is a painless procedure. There is usually no discomfort felt from the application of the transducer to the skin other than mild pressure. Transvaginal and transrectal ultrasounds are associated with some mild discomfort when the transducer is inserted into the body.
Who Benefits from a Pelvic Ultrasound?
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms related to your urinary or reproductive systems, you may benefit from a pelvic / bladder ultrasound. This test can evaluate the organs in the pelvis and help your doctor identify their cause and plan appropriate treatment.
What to Expect after a Pelvic / Bladder Ultrasound?
You can expect to resume your normal activities immediately after the pelvic / bladder ultrasound test. There is no pain associated with an abdominal ultrasound. The discomfort associated with a transvaginal ultrasound is usually less than a manual gynecologic exam. There may be some mild discomfort in the rectum for a few hours following a transrectal ultrasound. Recovery after a pelvic / bladder ultrasound is quick and there is no downtime.
What Does a Pelvic / Bladder Ultrasound Cost?
The cost of a pelvic ultrasound can range from $100 to $1000 depending on the type of ultrasound (regular versus 3D) and where it is performed. Standalone ultrasound facilities and urologist offices are often less expensive than larger hospitals. If you are paying out-of-pocket, on average, you can expect to pay $200 to $500 for a pelvic ultrasound.
What is the Insurance Coverage for a Pelvic / Bladder Ultrasound?
The cost of a pelvic / bladder ultrasound is covered by most insurance companies, including Medicare if the test is ordered by your urologist or another medical professional to diagnose a problem. There may be a co-pay. The test is usually deemed medically necessary if your symptoms and physical findings warrant further evaluation.
What to expect after an ultrasound study?
There is no pain and no radiation associated with ultrasound studies. There is no recovery involved after ultrasound studies performed at New York Urology Specialists.
What are the benefits of an ultrasound study?
- Specific Diagnosis: Ultrasound study may detect abnormalities that cause your symptoms. For example, a kidney ultrasound may detect kidney stones or hydronephrosis. Bladder ultrasound may reveal a bladder diverticulum.
- Minimally Invasive: There are no major risks associated with ultrasound studies. They are safe, effective, inexpensive and quick.
Pelvic Ultrasound studies are performed in our offices by appointment.