Ultrasound Abdomen – A Great Invention to the Treasure Hunt

The abdomen is a part of the body that holds many surprises for both physicians and surgeons. The ultrasound is a major invention that has really had a huge impact in the diagnoses and treatments used in modern medicine.

Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to create an image of the part being scanned. Since there is no hazard of ionizing radiation, it emerges as a great screening tool and a cost-effective modality to identify emerging problems in almost all patients.


Importance of Ultrasound Abdomen as a Problem-Solving Tool

A complete ultrasound imaging of abdomen and pelvis covers liver, gall bladder, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, bladder, prostate (in males) and uterus and ovaries (in females).

The liver is one of the many organs which bears the brunt of modern lifestyle and hence a majority of the present population suffer from fatty liver disease and are unaware of it. Detecting fatty liver at an early age can help one adopt a healthy lifestyle and prevent the complications related to it. Ultrasound is also an excellent modality to image gall bladder stones which usually present as right sided upper abdominal pain when complicated by cholecystitis.

In patients presenting with back pain, kidney stones can be one of the many reasons and can be diagnosed with ultrasound. Diabetes and hypertension can affect the kidneys in the long run and some patients develop chronic kidney disease which can also be detected on ultrasound.

In men of the geriatric age group presenting with urinary complaints like incomplete emptying, an enlarged prostate is a common problem and it can be accurately diagnosed using ultrasound.

Ultrasound is the initial imaging modality in the assessment of gynecological abnormalities like polycystic ovaries and uterine fibroids and can also help in picking up endometrial and cervical cancers at an earlier stage.

How to Prepare for an Ultrasound Scan?

  • It is recommended to be on fasting for a minimum of 4 – 6 hours prior to ultrasound abdomen, especially to image the gall bladder.
  • It is advisable to have an adequately distended bladder for imaging prostate (in males) and uterus and ovaries (in females) and hence patients are asked to drink a good amount of water and refrain from voiding urine prior to ultrasound examination.

Other Uses of Ultrasound:

  • Ultrasound is a safe imaging technique without any associated risk.
  • It can also be used as a guidance to remove fluid from the abdomen in patients presenting with ascites, a condition where there is a build-up of fluid inside the abdomen.
  • It is very useful in pregnant patients to monitor fetal growth and diagnose anomalies.
  • Using an ultrasound machine, one can also perform Doppler studies where the blood vessels are imaged.

Dr. Sree Vandana. G, MBBS, MD (Radio Diagnosis)
Junior Consultant Radiologist
Kauvery Hospital Chennai