What is an Abdominal Ultrasound?

Abdominal ultrasound is an exam that takes a picture of the organs and blood vessels inside the abdomen. It is a simple and useful way to investigate suspected illness. An abdominal ultrasound can provide information about the abdominal organs, including:
  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Gallbladder
  • Spleen
  • Blood vessels that supply these organs

Ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses sound waves to take pictures of the inside of the body. It is painless and does not use radiation. During an abdominal ultrasound, a gel that helps transmit the sound waves is applied to the skin. Then a wand is moved over the skin, sending sound waves through the abdomen and producing a picture on the computer screen.

An abdominal ultrasound can identify tumors, infections, problems with blood flow, fluid buildup, or trauma to the organs of the upper abdomen. It is often used to identify the cause of abdominal pain, swelling, or decreased liver function. If gallstones or kidney stones are suspected, an ultrasound can detect them and see how large they are.
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