Abdominal ultrasound

What is abdominal ultrasound?

Abdominal ultrasound is a test used to examine the internal organs of the abdomen, such as the kidneys, liver, spleen, gallbladder or pancreas. The blood vessels that reach some organs, such as the aorta or the vena cava, can also be visualized with ultrasound.

What does abdominal ultrasound consist of?

First, a transparent conductive gel is applied to the patient’s abdomen, who is lying down. Then, the transducer (hand-held probe) is passed over the abdomen, which, using high-frequency sound waves, transmits images of organs and structures inside the body to a screen that displays the image. The test usually lasts 30 minutes.


Why is abdominal ultrasound performed?

Abdominal ultrasound is used for several purposes:

  • Detecting the cause of pain in the abdomen
  • Detect the cause of kidney infections
  • Diagnose ascites
  • Diagnose tumors and cancers
  • Find the reason for swelling of an abdominal organ
  • Look for stones in the gallbladder or kidney
  • Look for damage after an injury
  • Find the cause of abnormal blood test results
  • Find the cause of a fever

Preparation for abdominal ultrasound

Preparation depends on the patient’s problem, although in general you should not eat or drink anything for several hours before the test.

How do you feel during the exam?

During the test, the patient may have to change positions so that different areas can be examined and may have to hold his or her breath at times. The conductive gel may feel a little cold and clammy, but there is little discomfort during the test.

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Meaning of abnormal abdominal ultrasound results

Abnormal results in an abdominal ultrasound could mean pathologies or problems such as abscess, appendicitis, gallstones or kidney stones, pancreatitis, cirrhosis, liver tumors, among others.