There are several types of ultrasound. Each will be conducted depending on the body part you wish to study and review and the current condition of the patient. Overall, ultrasound machines are considered safe, convenient and effective. Abdominal ultrasound, in particular, are generally used to determine the presence of abnormalities in the body. Knowing how the process works, as well as doing the necessary preparations will come in very useful.
About Abdominal Ultrasound
Abdominal ultrasound generally provides a picture of organs and other existing structures found in the upper abdomen. Ultrasound imaging or sonography in this case will expose the inner parts to high frequency sound waves, thereby producing images without the need for any invasive approach. The pictures will be captured in real time so you can actually see the structures and blood flowing through the blood vessels.
Abdominal ultrasound aims to help doctors diagnose problems and medical conditions to find effective and immediate treatment. Doppler ultrasound can also be included during abdominal ultrasound testing. Doppler ultrasound is a technique that assesses blood as it moves through blood vessels. This will include the major veins and arteries in the arms, legs, neck and abdomen.
Abdominal ultrasound machines are also used to evaluate body organs such as the liver, kidneys, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and abdominal aorta. Several conditions can be discovered such as aneurysm in the aorta, abnormal liver function, abdominal pains, gallbladder or kidney stones and enlargement of the abdominal organ. Ultrasound may also be used together with needle biopsies to guide and make sure that needles reach and extract the right cells.
During Doppler ultrasound, images can help physicians locate and evaluate narrowing of blood vessels, usually caused by plaque. Blockages or clots can also be discovered as well as congenital defects and tumors.
Make sure you wear loose and comfortable clothes during the ultrasound test. Jewelry and clothing covering the parts to be examined will have to be removed. You may be asked to wear a gown for the procedure. If you have had barium enema or upper gastrointestinal or GI series tests in the past 2 days, tell your doctor immediately. The barium that remains in the intestines can interfere with the diagnostic test.
Preparations will depend on the organ to be examined. For observation of the pancreas, spleen, gallbladder and liver, you will need to have a fat-free final meal. Avoid eating 8 to 12 hours before taking the test as indicated by your doctor. To observe the aorta, you need to avoid food 8 to 12 hours before going through the ultrasound machines too. To observe the kidneys, you need to drink about 4 to 6 glasses of water or other liquid 1 hour before the examination for a full bladder. You have to avoid food 8 to 12 hours before to keep gas from accumulating in the intestines.
What to Expect
Generally, abdominal ultrasound machines are quick, painless and easy. Once you are positioned on the examination table, the sonographer or radiologist will put some warm gel on the skin then put the transducer well against your body, moving the tool back and forth over the affected area to get the needed images. If scanning is done over a tender area, you might feel some pressure or mild pain. The gel will be wiped off after imaging is done. You can resume regular activities afterwards.