Taming an ‘Ancient Form of Torture’

If you think that pelvic sonograms will be inadequate unless the patient has a full bladder, think again.

During the annual meeting of the California chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Dr. Peter E. Sokolove pointed attendees to a 2000 article written by the editor in chief of the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, who later called the practice of filling the bladder for pelvic sonograms “an ancient form of torture.”

In a 1-month study of 206 consecutive patients, Dr. Beryl R. Benacerraf, of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and her associates found that transvaginal ultrasound alone was sufficient to detect findings in 172 patients (83.5%), transvaginal and transabdominal scans through an empty bladder were required for 31 patients (15%), while only 3 patients (1.5%) required a full bladder in order to visualize one ovary each.

“Overfilling [the bladder] can give false positives and false negatives,” added Dr. Sokolove, vice chair for education in the department of emergency medicine at the University of California, Davis. “And, of course, it’s more uncomfortable.”

— Doug Brunk (on Twitter@dougbrunk)

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Filed under Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Hospital and Critical Care Medicine, IMNG

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