Abdominal ultrasounds are used to diagnose and manage a number of health conditions.
Allied Digestive Disease Center of Houston often uses abdominal ultrasound to diagnose and manage a number of health conditions. Abdominal ultrasound is a type of imaging test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the organs in the abdomen, such as the gallbladder, liver, pancreas, spleen, and kidneys.
Ultrasound equipment works by sending out high-frequency sound waves that reflect off organs and other body structures. A computer then receives these waves and uses them to create an image.
Unlike other types of imaging, such as x-rays or CT scans, ultrasounds do not expose patients to ionizing radiation. This makes ultrasounds safer than other types of imaging technology.
Common Uses for Abdominal Ultrasounds
A doctor may order an abdominal ultrasound for a variety of reasons, including:
- To determine the cause of abdominal pain
- Find the cause of kidney infections
- Diagnose and monitor tumors and cancers
- Diagnose or treat accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, a condition known as ascites
- Determine the underlying cause of swelling of an organ in the abdomen
- Look for damage after an injury
- Find out if there are stones in the gallbladder or kidney
- Determine the underlying cause of abnormal blood tests, such as kidney tests or liver function tests
- Look for the cause of an unexplained fever
What to Expect During the Abdominal Ultrasound Procedure
In many cases, the patient will need to refrain from eating or drinking anything for several hours before an abdominal ultrasound. The gastroenterologist will determine how long the patient should fast prior to undergoing the test.
The patient will likely wear a gown for the test, exposing only his or her abdomen. The patient will be lying down comfortably for the procedure.
The provider performing the ultrasound will apply a clear, water-based gel to the skin over the patient’s abdomen. The gel helps transmit sound waves. The provider then moves a handheld probe, known as a transducer, over the abdomen.
The patient may need to change position to allow the provider to capture images of different areas in the abdomen. The patient may also need to hold his or her breath for short periods during the ultrasound.
The provider wipes the gel from the patient’s abdomen. There is no recovery period – the patient may leave right away. In most cases, an ultrasound of the abdomen takes less than 30 minutes.
An abdominal ultrasound is painless; the gel may feel cold and wet.
Benefits of Abdominal Ultrasound
- Abdominal ultrasound is noninvasive, which means no needles or injections are involved
- An ultrasound exam may be uncomfortable, but should not be painful
- Ultrasound is less expensive than other types of medical imaging methods
- Ultrasound imaging does not use radiation and is extremely safe
- Ultrasound scanning creates clear images of soft tissues, which are difficult to capture on x-ray images
- Ultrasound provides real-time imaging, so doctors can use it to guide other procedures, such as needle biopsies and fluid aspiration.
- Abdominal ultrasound has no known harmful effects on humans
If you are experiencing symptoms, contact Allied Digestive Disease Center of Houston. Our caring gastroenterologists in Houston can use abdominal ultrasound to diagnose and manage a wide variety of health conditions. Make an appointment with Allied Digestive Disease Center of Houston by calling 832.981.2087.