An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of structures in the body. A Doppler ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound that can show blood flow in the vessels.
An ultrasound shows the details of structures in the abdomen. It can show features like the size and movement of organs, cysts or growths, or fluid collections. An ultrasound of the abdomen is most often done to:
Diagnose an injury or disease
Help determine the cause of abdominal pain, especially appendicitis
Identify gallbladder stones or kidney stones
Assess masses or fluid collections in the abdomen
Assess the cause of abnormal liver or kidney function
Help determine why an internal organ is enlarged
Examine the baby and uterus in pregnant women
Evaluate changes or problems in the blood vessels
A physical exam may be done. Bodily fluids may also be tested with blood or urine tests. Your doctor may advise that you:
Fast for 8-12 hours before the test to decrease the amount of gas in your intestines and make organs easier to see
Have a full bladder before the test by drinking 6 or more glasses of water without going to the bathroom
You will be positioned on a table. A gel will be placed over the area that will be checked. The gel helps the sound waves travel from a wand to your body.
The ultrasound machine has a hand-held wand. The wand is pushed against your skin where the gel has been applied. The wand sends sound waves into your body. The waves bounce off your internal organs and echo back to the wand. The computer can convert echoes into images on a screen. The images on the screen are examined by your doctor. A photograph of them may be taken.
You may be asked to change positions or hold your breath
You shouldn't feel any pain
Should last 30 minutes or less
You will be able to return to your normal activities afterwards
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.
Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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