There is no difference when you consider a sonogram vs. ultrasound; both terms, though technically different, commonly are used interchangeably. Both a pelvic sonogram and a vaginal sonogram are perfectly safe, even when you’re pregnant. You’re in good hands when you visit your Forest Hills, Queens gynecologist.


First things first: sonogram vs. ultrasound. An ultrasound or USG is an imaging procedure you have done at a doctor’s office, outpatient clinic or hospital. It’s used during pregnancy or in the course of diagnosing other conditions. It can also be used during surgeries and other procedures.

A sonogram is the image that’s created, printed, and given to you that shows the area of the body you had scanned. Even though technically the terms mean different things, they are used interchangeably by many people.

The Science Behind the Sonogram

The ultrasound procedure that gives you a sonogram to take home is based on what you know as sonar. Sonar, combined with radar technology, led to the creation of this technology that uses high frequency sound waves to scan the body. The frequency is beyond the range that humans can hear — hence the name “ultra-sound.”

The basic principle is that sound waves, not radiation, are sent into the body, hit different structures, and go through, or return to the transducer. As the waves bounce back from structures of different density, an image is created. The sound waves go through soft tissue and fluids, but not bones. When the waves return to the transducer, it’s able to show the size, shape and consistency of different structures.

The History Behind the Science

The technology stemmed from instruments used to detect structural flaws in large ships. Clinical use of this technology was first used in the 1950s after research done by Ian Donald, John Vicar and Tom Brown was published. The science has advanced enough to where the still, grayscale images of the past have been replaced by moving, color and even three-dimensional images.

Sonograms have a varied number of applications, but most people know about it from its safe use during pregnancy and an OB/GYN exam. But since it shows any hollow organ in real time, it’s used during surgery to help make many procedures possible and much safer. There are several different types of ultrasounds, including:

  • Standard sonogram
  • Advanced sonogram
  • Doppler
  • 3D
  • 4D or Dynamic 3D
  • Fetal Echocardiography

While these distinctions are based primarily on the type of image created, you can also classify them by the location of the scan. There are abdominal, transabdominal, transrectal, and pelvic sonograms — as well as obstetric transvaginal and vaginal sonograms.

The Ultrasound and Pregnancy

Even though it’s used more often than you might think, the sonogram’s main function and benefit comes from the fact that it’s safe to use, even during pregnancy. No evidence of harm or long-term effects have been found in mothers or babies. It’s become a vital diagnostic tool that not only confirms pregnancy, but can diagnose problems as well.

There isn’t a minimum or maximum number of abdominal sonograms that you should get during pregnancy. Other than the one to two you can get to confirm pregnancy and look for any abnormalities, most healthy pregnancies don’t require more.

For Problem Pregnancies

High-risk pregnancies may require more if your gynecologist suspects something specific. Then you may get a vaginal sonogram. Indications for an obstetric ultrasound are classified according to the trimester, which include:

  • First trimester:
    • Confirmation of pregnancy
    • Confirmation of heartbeat
    • Calculation of normal gestation
    • Diagnosis of abnormal gestation
    • Diagnosis of initial complications (ectopic or molar pregnancy)
  • Second trimester:
    • Diagnosis of malformations or structural abnormalities
    • Diagnosis of multiple pregnancy
    • Diagnosis of intrauterine fetal death
    • Visualization of amniotic fluid level
    • Confirmation of fetal well-being
  • Third trimester:
    • Location of placenta
    • Visualization of fetal presentation
    • Diagnosis of uterine or pelvic abnormalities

Risks and Rewards of Sonograms

The benefits of this non-invasive, painless procedure far outweigh any risks. Millions of women have received sonograms, and although you shouldn’t do any unnecessary scans, it’s one of the safest diagnostic procedures available. There’s no radiation involved. Even though there could be damage at high power, there’s no reason to test the effects of high power.

Ultrasounds can be performed at any point during pregnancy, and there’re no side effects to the procedure. Being able to safely confirm pregnancy, diagnose maternal and fetal abnormalities, and see fetal well-being are not the only benefits. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat, knowing the gender and seeing it move, has been found to be humanizing and highly rewarding to parents.

To Pee or Not to Pee

When your gynecologist advises that you need a sonogram, there are certain things you should expect and certain things you should ask. Before the procedure, your doctor should tell you whether you should have a full bladder or not. He should also tell you if it’s an abdominal or vaginal sonogram. If he doesn’t, ask. Usually, a full bladder sonogram, especially in early pregnancy, gives a better image of your uterus.

Among the many benefits of sonograms, the procedure itself is pretty simple. It can take from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the type and location of the scan. Wear loose comfortable clothing for your procedure. It’s a relatively straightforward procedure, and you’ll be able to resume normal activity immediately afterward.

What to Expect

When you reach your appointment, you’re asked to lie on your back and expose your abdomen. The sonogram technician puts ultrasound gel on your abdomen, which acts as a conductor for the sound waves. The ultrasound wand that transmits the waves is placed on your skin. As a black and white, real- time image shows up on the screen, the technician looks for specific things and measures different areas. The images are captured, and a radiologist reviews them.

You get a printed picture of the results, and your gynecologist discuss the findings with you. This simple and safe procedure has helped millions of women maintain healthy pregnancies or diagnose potential problems early. A sonogram lets you see your baby in a fascinating way that’s moving, heartwarming, and most importantly, harmless.

As a best in class gynecologist in Queens, Dr. James  Gohar provides highly personalized and comprehensive care. His philosophy regarding the doctor/patient relationship is based on trust and has earned him one of the most respected reputations  in Queens NY.

For more information about the Vaginal, Pelvic Sonogram, treatment options or to schedule a consultation with the (gynecologist) OBGYN doctor, the best rated OB GYN specialist, Dr. James Gohar, please contact our Queens office.

Gynecologist Dr. James Gohar (OBGYN Doctor)
Forest Hills Medical Services
108-16 63rd Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
☎ (718) 897-5331