Transvaginal ultrasound in pregnancy: maneuvers, use and cost

In this article we will broadly describe what transvaginal ultrasound is and how it is performed , an instrumental investigation method introduced in the early eighties and, since then, widely used both to allow the early and correct diagnosis of various female diseases, and to  monitor step-by-step the pregnancy  and the evolution of the future baby.

What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a diagnostic system that uses ultrasound to create images of soft tissue structures, such as the gallbladder, liver, heart, kidneys, fetus, and female reproductive organs. Ultrasounds have the particular property of being reflected, by the bodies they encounter on their way, in a different way according to their density.

The medical devices that are used for transvaginal ultrasound do nothing but emit these ultrasounds and then “listen” to the reflected echoes. Thanks to sophisticated software, these echoes are then processed in the form of images which “reconstruct” a visual image of the scanned area.

Said “in a nutshell”, ultrasound works with the same principle that bats use to orient themselves in space. This last comparison may make us laugh, but it also helps us to understand and accept without reservation a very important fact: ultrasound  is not dangerous , it does not use radiation but only (ultra)sounds.

Before the ultrasound

Depending on the type of ultrasound you are having, you may be asked to drink water, eat a fat-free meal, fast, or you may not be prompted at all. However, all these precautions only serve to increase the quality of the images generated by the computer.

Transvaginal ultrasound vs. transabdominal ultrasound

Transabdominal ultrasound uses  a probe that is maneuvered over the lower abdomen. The sounds emitted by the probe before reaching the organs (and, in the opposite direction, before returning to the probe) must pass through the abdominal wall.

Unfortunately the abdominal wall, especially if covered by a layer of fatty tissue, absorbs part of the transmitted frequencies and therefore causes the waves to lose part of the information contained therein, with consequent degradation of the signal and the resulting images.

Transvaginal ultrasound was introduced to overcome the above problem .

As the name suggests, in transvaginal ultrasound, the probe is introduced into the vagina to prevent the ultrasound from being obstructed by abdominal tissue. This also allows you to run the test using higher frequencies and therefore provide even more detailed images.

When a transvaginal ultrasound is ordered in pregnancy

During pregnancy transvaginal ultrasound is done in the following cases:

  • in the first month of pregnancy ( 4  week);
  • in the last months of pregnancy  in cases where changes to the cervix or threat of miscarriage are suspected;
  • in the presence of pelvic pain;
  • in case of bleeding.

Transvaginal ultrasound: the operative procedure

The test, which lasts about 45 minutes, is performed on the bed in the gynecological position. The operation is performed by placing a probe (covered with a sterile coating) inside the vagina after applying a layer of warm gel to the area. During the test you will be able to see in real time the images that the probe transmits to the computer.

Transvaginal ultrasound in pregnancy: cost

According to the  ministerial decree of 10 September 1998 , in the event of ” repeated abortion or previous pathologies of pregnancy with perinatal death and on the prescription of the gynecologist or geneticist specialist ” the transvaginal ultrasound is provided free of charge (but we advise you to check with your doctor that there have been no changes since then). Otherwise the cost of a transvaginal ultrasound performed by the National Public Service is approximately 50 Euros. In the private sector, the cost is usually between 55 and 80 euros, at the discretion of the structure that carries out the text, of course.

The results of the ultrasound examination are delivered on CD-ROM.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *