Diagnostic Ultrasound of the Abdomen
An ultrasound examines organs or tissue inside the body. Sound waves are used to make an image. If a Doppler ultrasound
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
Ultrasound During Pregnancy
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.
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.
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.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
No. But, if you have a full bladder during the test, you may feel uncomfortable.
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.
Call Your Doctor
After the test, call your doctor if the symptoms you had before the test become worse.
In case of emergency, call 911.
Association for Medical Ultrasound
Radiology for Patients
ACR practice guideline for performing and interpreting diagnostic ultrasound examinations. American College of Radiology website. Available at: http://www.acr.org/SecondaryMainMenuCategories/quality_safety/guidelines/us/us_performing_interpreting.aspx. Accessed July 28, 2008.
Real-time ultrasound in abdominal examinations. Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: http://radiology.rsnajnls.org/cgi/content/abstract/133/3/825. Accessed July 28, 2008.
Last reviewed October 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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