Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and risk factors. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include the following:

Imaging Studies

Abdominal ultrasound—Sound waves are used to produce an image of the gallbladder. This is usually the best test for diagnosing gallstones.

Abdominal x-ray (oral cholecystogram (OCG) or cholescintigraphy)—Pictures of the gallbladder are produced, and some gallstones can be identified this way. These are usually done after swallowing dye-containing pills, or receiving an injection of dye into a vein in the arm.

Abdominal computed tomography (CT) scan—X-ray images are taken from many different angles, and a computer puts them together to form an image of the gallbladder.

Hepatobiliary (HIDA) scan—A radioactive dye is injected into the arm, and pictures are then taken of the gallbladder to determine if it is functioning properly.

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)—After you are sedated, a small tube (endoscope) is inserted through the mouth past the stomach and into the small intestine (duodenum). A contrast solution is then injected into the bile ducts and gallbladder. X-rays are taken, which can identify gallstones, tumors, or narrowing in the bile ducts.

Blood Tests

Liver Function Tests—Certain blood tests may help doctors evaluate whether the liver and pancreas are functioning properly, and if your symptoms are caused by a condition other than gallstones. These blood tests may include:

  • Bilirubin
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
  • Alkaline phosphatase (AP)
  • Gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT)
  • Amylase
  • Lipase