Follicle Tracking Ultrasound
A follicle tracking ultrasound scan is a diagnostic technique to look at the ovaries and uterus internally using a transducer. Due to this scan, a physician is able to evaluate follicles (fluid area in which eggs grow) within the both ovaries and pay attention to the endometrial tissue and pelvic area. This procedure is used very often in IVF preliminary stage before and during ovarian stimulation. Also, it is useful for understanding the causes of infertility.
Normally a woman produces and releases one egg every month. If she has 28 to 30-day cycle, ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary) occurs between days 12 to 16 of the cycle. Day 1 is the first day of a period. Both woman and physician should recognize these days. Follicular tracking involves scanning the ovaries regularly during a menstrual cycle and observing the follicles as they increase in size.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves, which pass through the tissues, and are reflected by the internal organs. Unlike X-rays, ultrasound does not use ionizing radiation and is very safe for a patient. A radiologist, who interpreters the screen image, records all results and passes the data to the patient’s fertility doctor.
As soon as a period begins, a patient should contact the doctor. Ultrasound monitoring may begin on day 3 of the cycle. Once the follicle reaches 16 mm in size, a daily monitoring of follicle is recommended. Ovulation generally occurs when the follicle measures about 18 to 25 mm.
If a patient is prescribed to take a drug called clomiphene citrate (Clomid), she should continue taking the tablets as instructed by a doctor. Clomiphene is used to cause ovulation in women that prevent naturally occurring ovulation.
To prepare for the examination a woman should have a bath before attending the doctor. Before going to scan a patient must empty her bladder.
The procedure takes place in a slightly darkened examination room. A patient is asked to take off the clothes from the waist down. A nurse covers this place with a sheet. A patient is lying on the back with raised and folded legs.
Once everything is prepared for the procedure, a sterile electronic device called transducer is gently inserted into the vagina. The diameter of the transducer is a little bigger than a size of finger or tampon. This device is usually lubricated or covered in a plastic or latex sheath. In the case of allergic reaction, the procedure will be stopped.
When the transducer is inside, an image of uterus and ovaries is shown on the screen. A radiologist will describe a baseline size, count of follicles, their shape, and some other features. It’s important to exclude any cysts remain from previous hyperstimulation.
If a woman is relaxed, the procedure lasts no longer than 15-20 minutes. Don’t fear the procedure, it is usually painless and no side effects are registered until now.
After the procedure patient is able to go home herself. The results will be sent to a doctor.