The Role of Ultrasound in Gynaecology/Women’s Health
Ultrasound is one of the first diagnostic tools used to examine the body for certain conditions like ovarian cysts, fibroids, early pregnancy problems and screening for fertility problems in women. Ultrasound examinations (often referred to as “scans”) are non-invasive and generally take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. Usually they are performed at local radiology departments by radiographers/radiologists, but in the past decade, other medical professionals have started to see the merit in having on-site ultrasound services, in order to speed up diagnosis and treatment of certain conditions. Ultrasound is radiation free, which makes it a safe diagnostic tool in the hands of a trained practitioner.
Fertility Problems and Ultrasound;
Problems with fertility and early pregnancy are becoming increasingly more common in the developed world. As a result, it is important to swiftly diagnose any issues with fertility and be able to obtain a timely ultrasound scan in particular when having fertility treatment such as IVF (in-vitro fertilization). Due to high costs of such treatments, more and more couples are seeking fertility treatments abroad. Such couples need to source their ultrasound scans (for follicle tracking/endometrial thickness) in Ireland, and depend on a reliable, reputable practitioner that can accommodate them at short notice.
Ultrasound in Early Pregnancy
Early pregnancy can be an exciting, but anxious time for couples, in particular if there has been a history of miscarriage in the past, or if there are any worrying symptoms like pain or bleeding. Most hospitals with obstetric departments have Early Pregnancy Units where they can perform early trans-vaginal (internal) ultrasound scans, to assess the viability of the pregnancy. It can also be of benefit to diagnose multiple pregnancy early, and to date the pregnancy for those who are unsure of the last menstrual period date.
NIPT testing (Non-invasive Prenatal Testing);
By week 9 or 10 of the pregnancy (7 or 8 weeks from conception), there is a small but detectable amount of baby’s DNA circulating in mother’s bloodstream, which can be tested for many of the common chromosomal abnormalities like Down Syndrome. The woman simply needs to have an ultrasound scan to ensure her baby is measuring the correct number of weeks, and have a single blood test, which is then sent for analysis in the UK. The advantage to this test is that there is no risk to the pregnancy, as there are no invasive procedures involved.
Castlepollard Medical Practice;
Dr Emma O’Hara is a fully qualified, vocationally trained GP for 15 years, and is currently in practice in Castlepollard, Co Westmeath. She holds a Diploma in Women’s Health, Post Graduate Certificate in Obstetrics/ Gynaecology Ultrasound from UCD, and a Masters in Medical Ultrasound through Bournemouth University in the UK. Her special interest is women’s health, which encompasses gynaecological problems, menopause, early pregnancy, and fertility issues. She has performed thousands of gynaecological scans (including follicle tracking) and is a recognized practitioner for NIPT testing with Evie Clinic (formerly IMFF – Irish Maternal Foetal Foundation).
Women’s Health and Pregnancy Services offered in Castlepollard Medical Practice
- Early pregnancy reassurance scans
- NIPT testing (Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing)
- Gynaecology scanning (including coil location)
Thanks to Dr Emma O’Hara, General Practitioner Castlepollard Medical Practice for info for this article. Her special interest is ultrasound in Early Pregnancy and Fertility. She is a registered practitioner with the IMFF (Irish Maternal Foetal Foundation) and regularly performs NIPT testing.