Abdominal Ultrasound

Abdominal Ultrasound

Ultrasound Procedures

An abdominal ultrasound can help us quickly find the cause of abdominal pain. An abdominal (belly) ultrasound looks at organs and other soft tissues within the abdomen, such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys,spleen, and abdominal aorta. Most patients scheduled for this scan need to fast before their appointment. However, in urgent cases of acute abdominal pain, patients can come without appointment and preparation. Please give us a call before you come +1 345 946 0067 or +1 345 939 1282.

What Is an Abdominal Ultrasound?

An abdominal ultrasound, also known as abdominal sonography, is a diagnostic test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

It uses high-frequency sound waves to capture an image of the internal organs. Unlike an x-ray, ultrasound technology does not use ionizing radiation and is completely safe.

When performing an ultrasound, your provider applies a special gel to the stomach to allow for smooth movement and glides a device called a transducer across it. Sound waves then travel from the device through the abdomen. A computer screen nearby shows real-time images of the target area.

Organs we frequently examine using an abdominal ultrasound include:

  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Spleen
  • Intestines
  • Gallbladder
  • Bile Ducts
  • Aorta

An abdominal ultrasound can help us detect liver disease, kidney stones, gallstones, aortic aneurysm, tumors, among many other conditions. It is the safest and most cost-effective diagnostic procedure.

Why We Perform Abdominal Ultrasounds

At Cayman Surgery, we perform abdominal ultrasounds to help referral doctors diagnose certain conditions. An abdominal ultrasound is a diagnostic tool that can provide information about internal organs, including the liver, kidneys and even blood vessels. A wide variety of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings can be associated with abdominal organs disease and may prompt the ordering of an ultrasound study. Some examples include unexplained weight loss, abdominal discomfort, pain or swelling, early satiety (feeling full without eating much), nausea or vomiting, weakness, jaundice, palpable mass, coagulation problems, and liver or spleen enlargement on a physical examination.

To check for liver disease

Ultrasound is a great tool for showing normal anatomy and the presence of abnormalities in the liver. It is particularly excellent for differentiating cysts from solid masses. Simple cysts have a thin wall and contain fluid, which shows up as a darker center than solid masses have on ultrasound. Solid masses can even be evaluated for blood flow by a technique called Doppler ultrasound.Ultrasound can also evaluate diffuse liver diseases, such as fatty liver, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. For example, a fatty liver (steatosis) is typically brighter on a liver ultrasound than normal liver.

If you are at risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm

If you have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms or are otherwise at risk, a one-time abdominal ultrasound can help check if you’ve developed the condition. Depending on the size, location or extent of the aneurysm, your doctor will determine further steps.

Acute abdominal pain

If you have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms or are otherwise at risk, a one-time abdominal ultrasound can help check if you’ve developed the condition. Depending on the size, location or extent of the aneurysm, your doctor will determine further steps.

  • Gallstones
  • Kidney Stones
  • Appendicitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Pancreatitis

Preparing for Your Appointment

If you were referred to us for your abdominal ultrasound, we would give you tips on how to prepare for your procedure. Depending on which organ will be examined, some steps that might be required to get ready for your ultrasound include:

  • If examining the liver, aorta, or digestive organs, we may ask you to fast for up to 8 hours before your procedure and eat a fat-free dinner the night prior to your appointment. Gas build-up can make it difficult to get an accurate image, and fasting helps prevent this problem.
  • Wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing. You will need to expose your abdomen during this procedure, so garments you can easily move are the best. We may also offer you a gown if necessary.

The whole procedure should take no more than 30 minutes to complete.

Preparing for Your Appointment
After Your Exam

After Your Exam

When your abdominal ultrasound is complete, we will send a signed report to your doctor, who will interpret the results.

If your results show any abnormalities, you may need further testing. We will schedule a follow-up appointment with you if necessary. Results from an ultrasound scan are usually interpreted on the same day of the exam. In some cases, it may take longer. Urgent studies can be reported on within 2 hours.

Make an Appointment for Ultrasound

To make an appointment for an ultrasound or request pricing, please call our office today at +1 345 946 0067. You can email your doctor’s referral form to office@caymansurgery.ky. Please don’t forget to provide your phone number. We will contact you to make an appointment. If you do not have a doctor's referral you should get one during your next visit to the doctor.

Schedule appointment


Abdominal Ultrasound

Is an abdominal ultrasound harmful?

An abdominal ultrasound is one of the safest and least invasive diagnostic procedures available. That’s why it’s the preferred method of examining fetal development. Ultrasound machines do not use radiation, which is known to be potentially harmful, but instead rely on high-frequency sound waves to capture an image. Ultrasounds cause no known side effects.

How long does an ultrasound take?

The exam itself usually lasts no longer than 30 minutes. You may spend additional time in the waiting room before your appointment to check in.

Is an abdominal ultrasound the same as a pelvic ultrasound?

The short answer is No. If you have abdominal pain, abdominal and/or pelvic ultrasounds could be performed. Ultrasound for the organs above your umbilicus is an abdominal ultrasound. Ultrasound for the organs below your umbilicus is called pelvic ultrasound.There is a way of looking at pelvic organs such as the bladder, uterus or ovaries for female patient and prostate and seminal vesicles for male patient. All these organs can be checked through the abdominal wall: this is called a transabdominal pelvic ultrasound. However, there are other forms of pelvic ultrasounds, including transvaginal ultrasounds and rectal ultrasounds.

What pathology can be detected on ultrasound if I have abdominal pain?

Providers use abdominal ultrasound tests to detect:

  • Enlarged spleen
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation)
  • Cancers and benign tumors in bile ducts , liver, kidney or pancreas
  • Fatty liver disease and cirrhosis
  • Appendicitis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (a bulge in the aorta wall in your midsection)

What are gallstones?

Gallstones are stone-like objects that develop in the gallbladder or bile ducts (the pipe-like system within the liver). Gallstones can range dramatically in size, from tiny grains of sand to golf ball-sized objects. Interestingly, small stones can often cause the most trouble. These are stones that can leave the gallbladder and get stuck. Larger stones tend to remain quietly in the gallbladder. It is important to know that many people who have gallstones are never bothered by them and may not know the stones are even there.

What are gallstones made of?

Gallstones are made up of hardened materials in your body. Typically, there are two types:

  • Cholesterol: Made up of fatty substances in the blood, cholesterol is found throughout the body. This is the most common type of gallstones.
  • Pigment stones (mainly made of bilirubin): This substance is created when red blood cells break down in the liver. Too much bilirubin can actually leak into the bloodstream and cause the skin and eyes to turn yellow (jaundice).

Gallstones that are made up of cholesterol tend to be greenish in color. It is more common to have gallstones made of cholesterol than other types of stone.Gallstones are most commonly found in the gallbladder, as cholesterol stones. Gallstones can also travel from the gallbladder to the common bile duct, which is the largest of the ducts (pipes) in the liver.

Common bile duct stones are much less common than gallstones. Stones that find their way into the common bile duct can create more serious medical situations than just gallstones that remain in the gallbladder. Common bile duct stones can block the common bile duct, resulting in a serious infection called cholangitis. These stones can also cause pancreatitis, a painful condition caused by inflammation of the pancreas. Stones in the common bile duct can be removed without surgery by using a scope. Removal of the gallbladder requires surgery, which is typically done laparoscopically (a minimally invasive surgical procedure).

What is cholecystitis?

Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ tucked away under your liver in the upper right section of your abdomen. The gallbladder’s job is to store bile – a fat-digesting fluid made by the liver – and to release it after you eat a meal. Cholecystitis usually develops when the bile gets trapped in your gallbladder, and becomes infected with bacteria. Bile gets trapped when gallstones block the flow of bile out of your gallbladder.

What are gallstones and how do they block the flow of bile

Gallstones are hardened deposits of the digestive fluids that form in your gallbladder, and can range in size from a tiny grain of sand (called sludge) to a golf ball. They are made up of either cholesterol or pigment stones. Gallstones made of cholesterol are yellow-greenish in color, and are more common. Pigment stones are mostly made of bilirubin, a substance that is created when the liver breaks down red blood cells.

Gallstones themselves are not necessarily a problem. It’s possible to have gallstones sitting in your gallbladder, never bothering you and, in that case, they don’t need to be treated. However, gallstones that leave the gallbladder can get stuck in your ducts (tubes). They block the flow of bile out of your gallbladder, which causes a build up of bile. These events cause the walls of your gallbladder to become inflamed and swell, and that can lead to bacterial infection of the bile. Your life can even be in danger unless you seek prompt medical and surgical help.

How does the gallbladder work?

The gallbladder connects to your liver by a duct system (tubes) that look like a tree trunk with branches. There are many ducts, or “branches” inside your liver. These tree branches connect via the cystic duct into your gallbladder. Bile, a fat-dissolving liquid substance that is made continuously by your liver, travels through the duct system and enters your digestive system at the duodenum. When you are not eating, a valve structure at the common bile duct and duodenum connection, called the major duodenal papilla, is usually closed. This allows the bile to reflux back through the cystic duct into your gallbladder to be stored. During mealtime, your gallbladder contracts, and the valve opens, pushing the stored bile out of your gallbladder, through the cystic duct and down the common bile duct into your intestine. Bile mixes with the partially digested food, further helping the breakdown of the fat in your diet.Gallstones, or even sludge, in the gallbladder can obstruct this normal flow of bile, leading to cholecystitis.

Who is at risk of getting cholecystitis?

Gallstones are stone-like objects that develop in the gallbladder or bile ducts (the pipe-like system within the liver). Gallstones can range dramatically in size, from tiny grains of sand to golf ball-sized objects. Interestingly, small stones can often cause the most trouble. These are stones that can leave the gallbladder and get stuck. Larger stones tend to remain quietly in the gallbladder. It is important to know that many people who have gallstones are never bothered by them and may not know the stones are even there.

  • Person with a family history of gallstones
  • Women age 50 or older
  • Eat a diet high in fat and cholesterol
  • Overweight or obese patients
  • Diabetic patients
  • Are currently pregnant or have had several pregnancies
  • Women who take estrogen replacement therapy or birth control pills
  • Patients with rapid weight loss

What is the liver’s function?

Your liver is an essential organ with multiple life-supporting functions. The liver:

  • Produces bile, which helps with digestion
  • Makes proteins for the body
  • Stores iron
  • Converts nutrients into energy
  • Creates substances that help your blood clot (stick together to heal wounds)
  • Helps you resist infections by making immune factors and removing bacteria and toxins (substances that can harm your body) from your blood

What is fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver disease (steatosis) is a common condition caused by having too much fat build up in your liver. A healthy liver contains a small amount of fat. It becomes a problem when fat reaches 5% to 10% of your liver’s weight.

Why is fatty liver disease bad?

In most cases, fatty liver disease doesn’t cause any serious problems or prevent your liver from functioning normally. But for 7% to 30% of people with the condition, fatty liver disease gets worse over time. It progresses through three stages:

  • 1
    Your liver becomes inflamed (swollen), which damages its tissue. This stage is called steatohepatitis.
  • 1
    Scar tissue forms where your liver is damaged. This process is called fibrosis.
  • 1
    Extensive scar tissue replaces healthy tissue. At this point, you have cirrhosis of the liver.

What is cirrhosis of the liver?

Cirrhosis of the liver is a result of severe damage to the liver. The hard scar tissue that replaces healthy liver tissue slows down the liver’s functioning. Eventually, it can block liver function entirely. Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.

What are the forms of fatty liver disease?

There are two main forms of fatty liver disease:

  • Alcoholic liver disease Alcoholic fatty liver is the accumulation of fat in the liver as a result of heavy drinking. (Moderate drinking is defined as one drink a day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.)
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs in people who aren’t heavy drinkers.. Several factors, such as obesity and diabetes, can increase your risk.

What is the spleen?

The spleen is an organ that is located in the upper abdomen. The spleen is normally about the size of a fist. The spleen is important because it helps filter the blood.

What is an enlarged spleen?

An enlarged spleen, a condition known as splenomegaly, is not in itself a disease. It is usually a symptom of another problem.

What are the symptoms of an enlarged spleen?

You may not have any symptoms from an enlarged spleen. However, you may:

  • Feel a kind of dull pain on the left side of the abdomen or in your back.
  • Feel full early, so that you can eat only small amounts.
  • Become anemic (and with that, be tired and/or short of breath).

Is an abdominal ultrasound safe during pregnancy?

There is no evidence that ultrasound tests harm a fetus or pregnant mothers whatsoever. Prenatal ultrasounds are one of the safest ways to check the health of the fetus.

Can abdominal ultrasound detect cancer?

An ultrasound exam can detect abnormal changes that could point to cancer. However, the test alone isn’t enough to diagnose cancer. If your doctor notices an unusual growth or change in one of your abdominal organs, they will refer you for further testing to diagnose or rule out cancer.

Who interprets the results?

The sonographer isn’t usually trained to interpret ultrasound results, although they’re the ones who perform this exam. A radiologist interprets the scans.

Is an abdominal ultrasound covered by insurance?

When referred by a doctor, an ultrasound is usually covered by health insurance since it is deemed as medical necessity. But depending on your insurance plan, you might need to pay some portion of the total costs. If you want to know more about ultrasound price and your co-pay, please call us +1 345 939 1282 or +1 345 946 0067 or email office@caymansurgery.ky.

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