The Abdominal Ultrasound Scan
Abdominal ultrasound scans are the most common ultrasound examinations as there are many organs within the abdominal viscera. The main organs visualised with ultrasound in the upper abdomen are: the liver, the gallbladder, the pancreas, the kidneys and the spleen. Upper abdominal or RUQ pain could be related to these organs and sometimes the stomach.
The liver which is the second largest organ in the body. The role of the liver is to process nutrients absorbed by the bowel, fight infections, remove toxins from the body such as alcohol, control cholesterol and release bile to name a few. The gallbladder which is a pear shape sack that stores the bile produced from the liver and releases it via the biliary tract when we need to break down the fat. Stones within the gallbladder called gallstones can cause pain and indigestion.
The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin and regulate the blood sugar in the blood stream.The kidneys are responsible for filtering the toxins from the blood and also regulate the blood pressure. Kidney stones are very common and can cause pain and sometimes obstruction that can be manifested with blood in urine. The spleen which is part of the immune system and clears the blood of proliferating blood cells.
The main reasons for abdominal scans is abdominal pain or RUQ pain that sometimes can be associated with food and in most cases is related to gallstones.
What is the purpose of this scan?
The Abdominal ultrasound scan includes evaluation of:
- Biliary system
The reasons for having an abdominal ultrasound scan:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Loin/kidney pain
- Abnormal liver function tests,
- Fatty liver
- Abnormal renal function
- Follow up on previous findings such as cysts, gallstones, polyps, kidney stones
- Abnormal Blood Tests
- Tumours & Cancers
- Liver Cirrhosis
- Yellow Skin (Jaundice)
What is included with this scan?
Ultrasound report and if needed, a follow up recommendation.
Preparation for this scan:
For this ultrasound scan you are required to fast for at least 4 hours (if you are diabetic you may have a sugary supplement if needed). Clear fluids, for example water are allowed.
What should I expect?
Before the abdominal ultrasound scan our sonographer will explain the examination procedure. You will be asked to lie on the examination couch exposed part of your abdomen. We will put a little bit of gel on your skin and a small ultrasound probe will be used to obtain images of your internal organs. During and after the examination our sonographer will explain the findings and an ultrasound report will be issued to take away with you.
Ultrasound imaging is a medical diagnostic technique where sound waves are being used to image various parts of the body.
Other terms for ultrasound imaging are: sonograms, US and sonography.
Ultrasound is widely used these days as it is painless and safe to adults, children and foetuses. There are no side effects such as the ones associated with radiation.
During the ultrasound scan, the sonographer rests a small probe over the skin. This probe produces sound waves i.e pulsations that travel through the tissues. Some of the sound waves are being reflected back to the transducer and the computer analyses the returning echoes and produces the image on the screen. It is the same principle with the sonar the navy uses.
Ultrasound is being used to image mostly solid organs such as liver, kidneys, uterus and ovaries, muscles and blood vessels and babies in the womb.
It has however limited value in organs such lungs, bone, stomach and bowel/colon.
Ultrasound images are black and white but colour Doppler is being used to evaluate organ and blood vessel blood flow and this is what the red and blue colours on the screen are.