Ultrasound imaging of the abdomen, also known as abdominal ultrasound, produces images of organs and other structures in the upper abdomen. A Doppler ultrasound study may be part of an abdominal ultrasound examination. Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood flow through a blood vessel.
Abdominal ultrasound is commonly used to help diagnose pain or enlargement. This type of ultrasound also can evaluate the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas, spleen and abdominal aorta.
Ultrasound imaging uses a small probe, called a transducer, and gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves travel from the probe, through the gel, into the body. The probe collects the sounds that bounce back. A computer uses those sound waves to create the images for the exam.
Ultrasound is painless and non-invasive.
When would I get an Ultrasound of the Abdomen?
Your medical provider may recommend an abdominal ultrasound in the evaluation of the:
- abdominal aorta and other blood vessels of the abdomen.
Ultrasound is used to help diagnose a variety of medical conditions, such as:
- abdominal pain or distention
- abnormal liver function
- enlarged abdominal organ
- stones in the gallbladder or kidney
- an aneurysm in the aorta.
At Capitol Imaging Services, ultrasound is also utilized as a guiding tool when performing a breast biopsy.
What Will I Experience?
For most ultrasound exams, you will lie on your back on an exam table. You may have your position adjusted to either side in order to improve the quality of the images captured during the exam.
An ultrasound technologist will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied. The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.
There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. However, if scanning is performed over an area that is tender or sensitive, you may feel some pressure or minor discomfort from the transducer.
Once the exam is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry quickly. The ultrasound gel does not usually stain or discolor clothing.
Typically, ultrasound imaging of the abdomen takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes to complete.