What is a Pelvic Ultrasound? This Diagnostic Test Shows a Broad View of the Pelvis

Much like a transvaginal ultrasound, a pelvic ultrasound is a diagnostic test that gives views of a patient’s uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the surrounding areas. The difference between the two tests is that a pelvic ultrasound gives a broader, more general view. Often, a pelvic test will be performed first, followed by a transvaginal test. Other times a pelvic ultrasound is all that is necessary.

The preparation for a pelvic ultrasound involves filling the bladder about an hour before test time. Clear liquids (water, tea without milk, clear juices) work best because they produce less gas, an enemy to the ultrasound image.

Reasons for a pelvic ultrasound include:

Pain/ Irregular Bleeding

One of the most common reasons for a pelvic ultrasound is pelvic pain. Many women experience pain from fibroid tumors, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, pelvic infections, and a host of other reasons.

The transducer can capture the image of fibroids, benign uterine tumors. These tumors cause pelvic muscular cramping, especially during menstruation. They can also cause excessive bleeding.

An ovarian cyst, usually uncomplicated (benign), is a result of an egg ripening and not releasing. It can grow to as large as 6 cm or more, causing pain and pelvic pressure. A pelvic ultrasound is often the first test to be done, and if the ovary is not seen clearly, a transvaginal ultrasound might be done to determinine whether it is truly a cyst or a solid mass.

Endometriosis, or the overgrowth of endometrial tissue, can be found in unusual pelvic places, including the regions beyond the ovaries (adnexal), adjacent to the uterus, and even outside of the pelvis. It is thought that the endometrial tissue somehow migrates outside of the uterus through the fallopian tubes instead of being expelled into the vagina during menstruation. A pelvic ultrasound works best for diagnosing endometriosis because it gives a broad view of the areas around the pelvic organs.

Bladder Problems

Although a doctor might specifically order renal (kidney) and bladder ultrasounds for suspected bladder problems, occasionally an anomaly will be seen on a pelvic ultrasound. Because a patient has filled her bladder for this test, it is well-defined and viewable on a pelvic ultrasound. Bladder wall thickening (infections), ureter obstruction(s), and/or possible kidney stones can be detected, clarifying the reason for vague pelvic symptoms.

2nd and 3rd Trimester Pregnancies

Usually termed “obstetrical” ultrasounds, 2nd and 3rd trimester exams are performed in the same way as pelvic ultrasounds. A mother might fill her bladder somewhat less for a second trimester exam, and not at all for a 3rd trimester ultrasound, depending on her comfort level and the technologist’s needs.

This type of pelvic ultrasound shows fetal parts, determines fetal age, can determine fetal sex, and checks for the overall health of the fetus.

For further reference: WebMD


Getting Electricity from Sewage

Treating human waste is a very expensive problem for most countries. Without treatment, raw sewage can spread disease and kill off the living organisms in our streams and rivers. Contamination of drinking water with sewage is common in countries that do not have the resources to treat their sewage. Sewage treatment is expensive but it does protect our waterways and prevents a lot of human illness. Unfortunately, the need to treat human sewage will never go away as long as people continue to gather together in the cities and towns of our world. About 60 percent of the human waste generated in the U.S. goes to waste treatment plants. Fourteen billion gallons of water are needed each day to carry that waste to the treatment plants. Even so about 10 percent of the waste mentioned above is not treated and goes in the form of raw sewage into our streams and rivers.

There are sewage treatment plants all over the industrialized world that utilize two relatively simple means to treat the sewage. The primary means used to treat sewage is to allow the solid material to settle to the bottom of a sedimentation tank. The sludge that settles to the bottom is pumped into an oxygen-free digester (anaerobic; secondary treatment). There, anaerobic bacteria help to breakdown many of the organic (carbon-containing) compounds in the sludge. The sludge is then allowed to dry and can oftentimes be used a fertilizer.

The liquid on top of the sludge in the sedimentation tank is then pumped to an oxygen (aerobic) containing digester (secondary treatment). The bacteria in the digester then breakdown the organic (carbon-containing) material in the sewage. The biological oxygen demand (BOD) is determined when assessing whether a digester has done its job or not. BOD is the amount of oxygen needed to breakdown the organic material in the sewage. If the sewage were released without this treatment the organisms in the waterways would use up valuable oxygen to breakdown the organic materials killing the fish and other animals dependant on oxygen in the water. By the time treated water is released around 90 percent of the BOD is removed. The water is chlorinated to eliminate most of the bacteria and then the water is released.

All of this takes time and large amounts of electricity to pump the liquids and to aerate (put oxygen in) the sewage. Some researchers from Pennsylvania State University (PSU) have found a very simple way to generate electricity from this sewage and at the same time reduce the BOD by 80 percent. In the Environmental Science and Technology (volume 38, number 7, pages 2281-2285), Hong