Abdominal Ultrasound

Ultrasound Services

Abdominal Ultrasound

What is an abdominal ultrasound?

Ultrasound utilizes a transducer to send and receive sound waves, and this information is used to create a real time image. As a result of this ability, and the safe application of sound waves (ultrasound), ultrasound is a leading diagnostic tool. There is no radiation associated with ultrasound.

Abdominal ultrasounds are an important tool when trying to detect abnormalities of soft tissue organs in the abdomen. This can include the pancreas, liver, biliary system including the gallbladder, kidneys, spleen, and the abdominal portion of the aorta. Ultrasound can also be used to assess portions of the bowel, to some degree, and in certain circumstances. There are inherent limitations to bowel visualization due to the presence of gas.

Ultrasound is best at capturing images of the soft tissue organs and fluid filled structures and can be the first line of investigation for suspected abnormalities like gallstones, kidney stones, fatty infiltration of the liver, and a variety of other conditions.

Frequently asked questions:

You may have been referred for an abdominal ultrasound for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to,  swelling, pain, bloating, or if abnormal laboratory tests are reported pertaining to the organs within your abdomen.  

Prior to your abdominal ultrasound, you will be instructed not to eat or drink (except water) for at least 6 hours prior to your exam. Fasting prior to your ultrasound is extremely important as it allows the sonographer to capture clear images. 

An abdominal ultrasound is painless, fast, and well tolerated. The examination is usually completed within 30 minutes.

Before an abdominal ultrasound, you may be asked to change into a gown, or else you will be provided with drape sheets to protect your clothing from the ultrasound gel. Then you’ll lie down on a table with your abdomen exposed.

An ultrasound technologist (sonographer) will use a special kind of gel on your abdomen that allows the sounds waves to travel from the transducer into your skin, as well as allowing the transducer to glide easily across the skin surface. The sonographer with take multiple images of your internal abdominal organs. During the scan you may be asked to hold your breath or roll on one side. These techniques are used to obtain high quality images, and your cooperation is very much appreciated.

If you’re having pain in your abdomen, you may feel slight discomfort during an ultrasound. Make sure to let your technologist know right away if the pain is too uncomfortable.

When an abdominal ultrasound is performed, there are little to no risks. However, patients may experience discomfort from the pressure placed on their abdomen from the transducer. This pressure is to allow for the sonographer to capture the best images of your internal organs.

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