Abdominal Ultrasonography Abdominal Ultrasound

Overview & Description

Abdominal ultrasound is a technique that uses high-frequencysound waves, or ultrasounds, to examine soft tissues such as the abdominalorgans. This test can provide information about the liver, gallbladder,spleen, pancreas, kidneys, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and urinarybladder. It can detect some abdominal masses. An abdominal ultrasound can also be used to view blood flow to theabdominal organs.

Who is a candidate for the test?

An abdominal ultrasound may be done for a number of reasons, including thefollowing:

  • to determine the cause of an enlarged organ
  • to determine the source of bleeding
  • to identify abnormalities in a woman’s ovaries, fallopian tubes, oruterus
  • to identify causes for vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
  • to locate the source of abdominaldistress
  • to look for stones in organs, such as the gallbladder or kidney
  • In some cases, an abdominal ultrasound is used todiagnose or monitor a woman’s pregnancy. This procedure is known as apregnancy ultrasound.

    How is the test performed?

    A liquid gel is applied to the person’s abdomen to help transmit sounds. Atransducer, which is like a microphone, is placed on the abdomen. Thetransducer is connected to a computer that convertsthe signals into images. A Doppler ultrasound may also be used to checkmovement in organs, such as blood flowing through blood vessels.

    Preparation & Expectations

    What is involved in preparation for the test?

    Depending on the reason for the abdominal ultrasound, somepreparation may be required. The individual may be told to avoid eating forseveral hours before the test. He or she may be asked to drink liquid to ensure that thebladder is full. The healthcare provider should be asked for specificinstructions.

    Results and Values

    What do the test results mean?

    Abnormal results, such as a mass or stones, may need further testing or surgery. The healthcare provider will discuss results with the individual.

    Article type: xmedgeneral