Overview & Description
Abdominal ultrasound is a technique that uses high-frequency sound waves, or ultrasounds, to examine soft tissues such as the abdominal organs. This test can provide information about the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and urinary bladder. It can detect some abdominal masses. An abdominal ultrasound can also be used to view blood flow to the abdominal organs.
Who is a candidate for the test?
An abdominal ultrasound may be done for a number of reasons, including the following:
In some cases, an abdominal ultrasound is used to diagnose or monitor a woman's pregnancy. This procedure is known as a pregnancy ultrasound.
How is the test performed?
A liquid gel is applied to the person's abdomen to help transmit sounds. A transducer, which is like a microphone, is placed on the abdomen. The transducer is connected to a computer that converts the signals into images. A Doppler ultrasound may also be used to check movement in organs, such as blood flowing through blood vessels.
Preparation & Expectations
What is involved in preparation for the test?
Depending on the reason for the abdominal ultrasound, some preparation may be required. The individual may be told to avoid eating for several hours before the test. He or she may be asked to drink liquid to ensure that the bladder is full. The healthcare provider should be asked for specific instructions.
Results and Values
What do the test results mean?
Abnormal results, such as a mass or stones, may need further testing or surgery. The healthcare provider will discuss results with the individual.
Author:Eva Martin, MD
Editor:Ballenberg, Sally, BS
Reviewer:Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS