Reasons, Preparation & Procedure of an Abdominal Ultrasound

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Abdominal Ultrasound

In this, reflected sound waves are used to create abdominal ultrasound images of the upper abdomen and organs in the abdomen. In some cases, special ultrasounds are conducted for in-depth evaluation. So there could be ultrasound of the kidney or abdominal ultrasound of the liver. An abdominal ultrasound is often used to check the large blood vessel known as the abdominal aorta that passes from the back of the chest and abdomen. An ultrasound can also check the liver, the gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and pelvis. Abdominal ultrasound for pregnancy can determine the growth of the fetus.

Why Is it Done?

It is done to -

  • Ascertain the reason of abdominal pain.
  • Monitor or detect an aneurysm in the aorta.
  • Check the position and condition of the liver to detect abnormalities.
  • Check for blocked bile ducts, inflammation of the gallbladder, or the presence of gallstones.
  • Check for kidney stones.
  • Check the enlarged spleen for disease or damage.
  • Spot pancreatic problems.
  • Check other abdominal organs, in case some damage or disease is suspected.
  • Help in placing an instrument or needle for biopsy.
  • Check fluid build up or ascites.

How To Prepare For It?

If you've had gastrointestinal tests or barium enema in the past two days, then mention this to the physician. Some of the other preparatory steps depend upon why the ultrasound is being conducted.

You'll be instructed to eat a fat-free meal the evening before the ultrasound, if it is for the pancreas, spleen, gallbladder or liver. For kidneys, you may be asked to drink plenty of water. For the aorta, you will have to refrain from eating for eight to 12 hours.

How Is It Done?

This is carried out by either a radiologist or a sonographer, who is an ultrasound technician, supervised by the doctor. Ultrasounds are generally done by a doctor. You will have to uncover the area that has to be examined or may even be asked to remove al your clothes and wear a paper gown.

Once you lie down on your back on the table, a warm gel will be applied on the abdomen, to improve the clarity of the sound waves. Then the doctor or technician will press a transducer against the stomach and move it over the area. An image of the blood vessels, fetus or organs can be viewed on a monitor. You will have to lie still while this is being done. An abdominal ultrasound generally takes half an hour to an hour.