High-frequency linear transducer improves detection of an intrauterine pregnancy in first-trimester ultrasonography

Am J Emerg Med. 2016 Feb;34(2):288-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2015.11.001. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Objective: The objective was to determine if the need for transvaginal ultrasonographic examination can be decreased by the addition of the transabdominal high-frequency, 12-4-MHz linear transducer after a failed examination with the 6-2-mHz curvilinear transducer when evaluating for an intrauterine pregnancy (IUP).

Methods: This is a prospective pilot study of women in their first trimester of pregnancy presenting to the emergency department with abdominal pain and/or vaginal bleeding. If no IUP was identified using the curvilinear transducer via the transabdominal approach, they were subsequently scanned using the linear transducer. Patients without evidence of an IUP transabdominally were scanned via the transvaginal approach.

Results: Eighty-one patients were evaluated; no IUP was visualized in 27 using the standard curvilinear transducer approach, and these then had an ultrasonography performed with the linear transducer. Of these, 9 patients (33.3%; 0.95 confidence interval [CO], 15.5%-51.1%) were found to have an IUP with the linear transducer. For the 18 patients who received a transvaginal scan, 15 patients (83.3%; 0.95 CI, 66.1%-100%) had no IUP identified with the transvaginal transducer, and 3 (16.7%; 0.95 CI, 0%-33.9%) had an IUP identified.

Conclusions: The transabdominal use of a high-frequency linear transducer in the evaluation of patients in the first trimester after failed curvilinear transducer results in a clinically significant reduction in the need for transvaginal ultrasonography to confirm the presence of an IUP.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First*
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Transducers*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / instrumentation*
  • Vagina