Abdominal ultrasound scan
Ultrasound is always the first line of investigation to:
- Find the cause of abdominal pain.
- Find or monitor an aneurysm in the aorta. An aneurysm may cause a large, pulsing lump in the abdomen.
- Check the size, shape, and position of the liver and rule out liver masses, cirrhosis and fatty liver.
- Detect gallstones, inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), or blocked bile ducts.
- Look for damage or disease and size of the spleen.
- Find problems with the pancreas, such as a pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas).
- Find out the size of the kidneys, detect kidney masses, detect fluid surrounding the kidneys or investigate causes for recurring urinary tract infections.
The reason for the test will depend on your symptoms, however, most people will ask for an ultrasound because they are experiencing something ‘not quite right’ in the abdomen and would like reassurance that the major organs appear normal.
The abdominal scan
The scan takes 20 minutes and we ask that you don’t eat or drink for several hours before so that gas is reduced which helps the ultrasound to ‘see’ better.
You will be asked to lie down on the ultrasound examination couch. A clear, water-based gel is applied to the skin over the abdomen and a transducer, which is a hand-held probe, is then simply moved over the sides of the abdomen.
The abdomen is scanned to evaluate the:
- Abdominal aorta: the large blood vessel (artery) that passes down the back of the chest and abdomen.
- Liver: the liver produces bile (a substance that helps digest fat), stores sugars, and breaks down many of the body’s waste products.
- Gallbladder: a small sac-shaped organ under the liver that stores bile helps in digesting food and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.
- Spleen: which helps fight infection and filters old red blood cells.
- Pancreas: produces enzymes that help digest food and also releases insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin helps the body use sugars for energy.
- Kidneys: which are bean-shaped organs that remove wastes from the blood and produce urine.
Abdominal ultrasound results
There are numerous conditions that can be detected during the abdomen scan.
The meaning of abnormal results depends on the organ and the type of problem found. We will explain everything that we see on scan and give you a clinical report of our findings and we can send them to your doctor or healthcare provider.
Your GP is usually the best person to speak with you should you need any follow-up care or treatment. They can put your ultrasound findings together with your full medical history and refer you to a specialist if needed.
For information on abdominal conditions, you can visit the external links below: