Nongynecologic findings on pelvic ultrasound: focus on gastrointestinal diseases

Ultrasound Q. 2012 Jun;28(2):65-85. doi: 10.1097/RUQ.0b013e31824f933a.


Ultrasound (US) is considered the first-line imaging modality of choice in women presenting with pelvic complaints. Although imaging is focused on detecting abnormalities of the uterus and adnexa, occasionally nongynecologic findings are detected, which may or may not explain the patient's symptoms. Many of these findings are related to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although most of these GI abnormalities are better diagnosed with computed tomography (CT), symptoms are often nonspecific and US may be the first imaging modality requested by referring clinicians. Sonographers should be aware of the possibility of nongynecologic diseases in patients with pelvic symptoms, particularly if US evaluation of the female reproductive tract does not provide an answer to the clinical question. Careful attention to the bowel when performing a pelvic US may allow the sonographer to diagnose GI pelvic diseases such as appendicitis, diverticulitis, colitis, bowel obstruction, mesenteric adenitis, epiploic appendagitis, Crohn disease, and even GI malignancy. As concerns grow regarding the radiation dose of pelvic CT, the use of iodinated contrast material, and imaging costs, US examination may be increasingly requested as an initial imaging study in patients in whom GI diseases is primarily suspected in the pelvis, and familiarity with the various sonographic manifestations will aid considerably in establishing the correct diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Genital Diseases, Female / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Pelvis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography / methods*