What is 3D ultrasound?
3D ultrasound is a cutting edge ultrasound technique that is considered today as the most reliable in the field of oncology and endocrinology thanks to the possibility of acquiring, memorising and reprocessing image sequences on the volume of organs and of pelvic structures. It is an innovative, non-invasive and risk-free technique. Until recently it has been used almost exclusively in the field of obstetrics for its potential in the study of foetal morphology. Its recent use in gynaecology for the diagnosis of uterine malformations has represented a real breakthrough capable of improving the chances of diagnosis. In traditional ultrasound diagnostics, images represent single planes of organs that are not always sufficient in providing information on the examined structures. The revolution of 3D lies in the rapid acquisition of the volume of organs and in the possibility of moving inside the planes. Some imaging softwares allow to visualise organs on the transverse, sagittal, or coronal planes, or on all of them simultaneously, choosing the thickness of the slices to be examined. Such softwares also allow to visualise vascularisation or to reconstruct the internal or external surface.
Why is it still not well known?
The problem with three-dimensional transvaginal ultrasound is the probe used, which needs to be specifically purchased, but also the fact that 3D technology requires a good knowledge of image reprocessing techniques and therefore a specific training of the operators involved.
The pathologies that benefit from the use of 3D are all those pathologies involving congenital malformations of the uterus. This technique not only allows to highlight the uterine cavity but also the external surface of the uterus.
Nowadays, in case of congenital uterine malformation, 3D ultrasound is used to confirm diagnosis while hysteroscopy remains the therapeutical operative technique. Undoubtedly, 3D ultrasound is a tool with great potential if performed by expert hands even though every diagnostic imaging examination requires great expertise of the operator. It should be noted that nowadays transvaginal ultrasound allows an in depth study of all pelvic organs (urethras, bladder, vagina, uterine cervix, uterine body with endometrium and myometrium evaluation, uterus-bladder septum, recto-uterine septum, uterus sacral ligaments, pouch of Douglas, anorectal junction), in a way that is much more accurate than CT scan, magnetic resonance and PET scan, thus representing the most effective diagnostic and preventive tool in women’s health.
3D ultrasound and endometriosis
Endometriosis is a pathology that leads to progressive lesions of the ovaries, of the uterus and of surrounding organs, in particular intestines and bladder, creating a strong symptomatology and damage to organs with consequences on their functionality and on women’s fertility. Thanks to the 3D ultrasound that provides results similar to those of MRI, it is possible to perform an accurate study with multiple scans of organs in order to localise lesions and adherences and reveal the early signs of uterine endometriosis.