Do Polyps Show on Ultrasound?

Reviewed on 3/15/2021

Polyps are diagnosed with physical examination of the affected area, and different types of tests may be used depending on where the polyps are located in the body. A tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken of a polyp to determine if it is cancerous. Polyps do show up on ultrasound, though it is not usually the primary screening method for polyps.
Polyps are diagnosed with physical examination of the affected area, and different types of tests may be used depending on where the polyps are located in the body. A tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken of a polyp to determine if it is cancerous. Polyps do show up on ultrasound, though it is not usually the primary screening method for polyps.

Polyps are diagnosed with physical examination of the affected area, and different types of tests may be used depending on where the polyps are located in the body. 

A tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken of a polyp to determine if it is cancerous. 

Polyps do show up on ultrasound, though it is not usually the primary screening method for polyps. 

Colon polyps are often diagnosed during screening to check for colon or rectal cancer. Tests include: 

Tests used to diagnose stomach (gastric) polyps include: 

  • Endoscopy with biopsy
  • Barium X-ray test, such as an upper GI (gastrointestinal) series

Ear (aural) polyps are diagnosed with a physical exam of the ear canal and middle ear using an otoscope or microscope.

Nasal polyps are diagnosed with:

  • A physical exam of the sinuses with a special tool that has a light on it
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan

Cervical polyps are usually discovered during a routine pelvic exam and Pap smear.

Uterine polyps are diagnosed with:

Polyps in the throat and vocal folds (larynx) may be diagnosed with an endoscopy.

What Are Polyps?

Polyps are abnormal growths of tissue that form on any part of the body that has mucus membranes. They may be flat or may project from the tissue by a stalk (pedunculated). 

Colon polyps are the most common type of polyp. Other common types of polyps include: 

  • Stomach (gastric polyp)
  • Ear (aural polyp)
  • Nose/sinuses
  • Cervix
  • Uterus
  • Throat and vocal folds (larynx)

There are several different types of polyps, and some polyps have the potential to become cancerous. 

What Are Symptoms of Polyps?

Symptoms of polyps depend on their location. Polyps often have no symptoms. 

When symptoms of polyps occur, they may include the signs detailed in the table below.

Symptoms of Polyps
Polyp Type/Location Signs & Symptoms
Colon Polyps
  • Pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen
  • Blood in stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
Stomach (Gastric) Polyps
  • Stomach pain 
  • Weight loss 
  • Severe vomiting 
  • Anemia due to vomiting
Ear (Aural) Polyps
  • Bloody drainage from the ear 
  • Hearing loss 
Nasal Polyps
  • Feelings of fullness or pressure in the face
  • Stuffy nose
  • Problems with sense of smell
Cervical and Uterine Polyps
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding 
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Vaginal discharge with foul odor (caused by infection)
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Bleeding after menopause
Throat and Vocal Folds (Larynx) Polyps
  • Rough, scratchy, or harsh-sounding voice
  • Feeling as if a lump is stuck in the throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Breathiness
  • Shooting pain from ear to ear
  • Neck pain
  • Decreased ability to change vocal pitch
  • Voice and body tiredness

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What Causes Polyps?

Causes of polyps very depending on their location in the body. 

Causes of colon polyps include: 

  • Lifestyle 
  • Diet high in red meat
  • Low-fiber, high fat diet
  • Smoking
  • Aging 
  • Obesity
  • Family history of colon polyps

Causes of stomach (gastric) polyps include: 

Causes of ear (aural) polyps include:

  • Foreign object stuck in ear
  • Inflammation of the ear
  • Abnormal skin growth in the ear (cholesteatoma)
  • Tumor 

Causes of nasal polyps include:

  • Chronic sinus irritation, such as from allergies
  • Upper respiratory tract infections 
  • Smoking

Causes of cervical polyps include: 

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Abnormal response to estrogen, a female hormone
  • Infection of the cervix
  • Clogged blood vessels in the cervical canal

Causes of uterine polyps include: 

Causes of polyps in the throat and vocal folds (larynx) include: 

What Is the Treatment for Polyps?

Some types of polyps may not need treatment and may go away on their own. 

Other polyps carry a risk of becoming cancerous and need to be removed. Surgical removal of polys (polypectomy) is the most common treatment for polyps that cause symptoms or that have a potential to be cancerous. 

Depending on the location and type of polyp, different or additional treatments may be indicated, which are listed in the table below.

Other Treatment Options for Polyps
Polyp Type/Location Types of Treatment
Ear (Aural) Polyps
  • Avoiding water in the ear 
  • Steroid medicines
  • Antibiotic ear drops
Nasal Polyps
  • Nasal steroids or corticosteroid treatments 
Cervical and Uterine Polyps
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists
Throat and Vocal Folds (Larynx) Polyps
  • Treat acid reflux, allergies, or thyroid problems 
  • Quitting smoking 
  • Stress management
  • Voice therapy (vocal hygiene)

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Reviewed on 3/15/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/colon-polyps-beyond-the-basics?search=colon%20polyps&source=search_result&selectedTitle=7~142&usage_type=default&display_rank=5

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/g/gastric-polyps.html

https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/prevent/colon-polyps/

https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/aural-polyps

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/nasal-polyps-the-basics?search=nasal%20polyps&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~147&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/specialties/womens-health-maternity/obgyn-conditions/cervical-polyps

https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/uterine-polyps/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22806624/