Research Article|Articles in Press

Anxiety Connected with Pelvic Ultrasound in Adolescents and Their Caregivers: Comparison of Transabdominal and Transrectal Approaches

Published:February 08, 2023DOI:


      Study Objective

      Transabdominal ultrasound (TAUS) is usually the first approach for diagnosis of reproductive tract complaints in all adolescents. However, there are instances when transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) is more feasible. Although TRUS is considered more invasive and distressing, evidence-based data are lacking. The aim of this study was to evaluate the level of anxiety in adolescents subjected to TAUS and TRUS and in their caregivers.


      In this cross-sectional study, data were prospectively gathered using 2 instruments: the adult or child version of the State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI or STAIC) and a self-developed survey.


      TAUS and TRUS are connected with high-level anxiety in patients and moderate anxiety in caregivers, as measured by the STAI/STAIC questionnaires. TRUS-related anxiety, fear, discomfort, and pain in adolescents are significantly higher compared with TAUS. The TRUS-related anxiety of caregivers, as well as the parent-estimated fear, discomfort, and pain of adolescents, is significantly higher compared with TAUS. Anticipated pain connected to TRUS is significantly higher than the post-exam, actually experienced pain. Pain and shame are the main reasons for adolescent anxiety connected with TRUS, whereas shame and unknown experience contribute to TAUS-related anxiety.


      Given the high level of anxiety associated with both exams, additional support should be provided to patients scheduled for any pelvic ultrasound exam. Given the even higher level of adolescent anxiety related to TRUS, specialists should be encouraged to train in TAUS and make efforts to begin with this approach. Because increased caregiver anxiety could adversely affect a child's reactions, anxiety-reducing interventions should be oriented toward the caregivers as well as the patients.

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