Tests, procedures and surgery

Diagnostic ultrasound of the abdomen


Ultrasound of the abdomen – Definition

An ultrasound examines organs or tissue inside the body. Sound waves are used to make an image. If a Doppler ultrasound is done, the doctor can see blood flow in the vessels.

Ultrasound of the abdomen – Reasons for Test

An ultrasound is used to find problems inside the abdominal cavity. It can show organs and movement. An ultrasound is most often done for the following reasons:

  • To diagnose an injury or disease
  • To help determine the cause of abdominal pain
  • To identify gallbladder stones or kidney stones
  • To assess masses in the abdomen
  • To help determine why an internal organ is enlarged
  • To examine the baby and womb in pregnant women
  • To evaluate changes or problems in the blood vessels

Ultrasound of the abdomen – Possible Complications

In most cases, there are no complications with this test.

Ultrasound of the abdomen – What to Expect

Prior to test

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood or urine tests

In some cases, your doctor may instruct you to:

  • Fast for 8-12 hours before the test. This will decrease the amount of gas in your intestines and make your organs easier to see.
  • Have a full bladder before the test. You may need to drink six or more glasses of water without going to the bathroom.

Ultrasound of the abdomen – Description of the Test

You will lie on a table. Your doctor will put gel on your stomach. The gel helps the sound waves travel between the machine and your body.

The ultrasound machine has a hand-held instrument called a transducer, which looks like a microphone or wand. The transducer is pushed against your skin where the gel has been applied. The transducer sends sound waves into your body. The waves bounce off your internal organs and echo back to the transducer. The echoes are converted into images that are shown on a screen. The doctor examines the images on the screen. He may also make a photograph of them.

You may be asked to change positions or hold your breath during the exam.

Ultrasound of the abdomen – After Test

The gel will be cleaned off your abdomen. You will be able to leave after the test is done. You will be able to return to your normal activities.

Ultrasound of the abdomen – How Long Will It Take?

30 minutes

Ultrasound of the abdomen – Will It Hurt?

No. But, if you have a full bladder during the test, you may feel uncomfortable.

Ultrasound of the abdomen – Results

The images are looked at by doctors. A report will be given to your doctor. Based on the results, you and your doctor will talk about more tests and treatment options.

Ultrasound of the abdomen – Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if the symptoms you had before the test become worse.

In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

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