Upon entry every patient will receive an ultrasound exam.
Providing the ultrasound also allows us to see if there are any complications with the pregnancy, and to confirm that the pregnancy has been developing normally inside the uterus.
Ultrasounds are also used to determine the proper gestation age (conventionally, pregnancies are dated in weeks from the beginning of the last menstrual period).
There are a few methods in which we take Ultrasounds, most of which are through the vagina.
For internal Ultrasounds we use the vaginal wand or probe (no larger than a human finger). This painless process is executed by covering the wand with a clean condom and ultrasound gel.
The probe is then gently manipulated inside the vagina until a clear image is obtained of the uterus and the pregnancy. When a clear image is attained our ultrasound technicians are then able to make measurements and determine dates.
The exam does not require the patient to have a full bladder, only takes a few minutes, and is completely painless.
On some occasions an abdominal probe is also used.
The abdominal probe is placed on the lower abdomen in an area covered with ultrasound gel to make an ultrasound image through the abdominal wall. Of course this exam is also painless. One or more ultrasound pictures are usually printed for the record.
Ultrasound exams are done for every patient when they first come in, and then for all medical abortion patients to determine if the procedure is complete. Surgical patients may also have ultrasounds afterwards.
In unusual cases, it is necessary to send patients to the hospital ultrasound lab where more sophisticated equipment is available. This may be necessary to rule out a tubal or ectopic pregnancy, or to examine a cyst or tumor, or for some other unusual finding.