Getting an Abdomen Ultrasound provides a lot of information for your physician. As you can imagine there are many organs in the belly and all of these have crucial roles in the health and well-being of our body.
An abdominal ultrasound includes evaluation of many different organs: Liver, Gallbladder, Spleen, Pancreas, Kidneys are the main areas that are covered during this type of ultrasound. If your physician has ordered an abdominal ultrasound, he/she may be interested in seeing the anatomy of these organs to determine if they are the source of cause of the symptoms you are having.
Liver: The liver regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes a product called bile, which helps to break down fats, preparing them for further digestion and absorption. All of the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down the nutrients and drugs in the blood into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body. The liver is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen.
Gallbladder: This is a small sac that is a storage container for bile. Bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. During digestion, the gallbladder releases the bile which helps break down fatty foods and aid in the breakdown of the foods ate. Gallstones are calcified “rocks” or thickened bile that form. Patients with belly pain are often evaluated for the gallbladder to rule out gallstones or sludge. The gallbladder is located next to the liver in the right upper quadrant.
Kidneys: The kidneys perform the essential function of removing waste products from the blood and regulating the water fluid levels in the body through the creation and excretion of urine. Urine is excreted by the kidneys, flows through the ureters (tubes leading from kidney to bladder) and eventually urine ends in the bladder where it is voided out. There are two kidneys, one on the left far side and the other on the right far side.
Pancreas: Completes the job of breaking down protein, carbohydrates, and fats using digestive juices of pancreas combined with juices from the intestines. The pancreas also secretes hormones that affect the level of sugar in the blood. In addition, the pancreatic juice produces chemicals that help neutralize stomach acids that pass from the stomach into the small intestine. The pancreas lies in the middle of the abdomen just below the notch of the sternum.
Spleen: The majority of the spleen's functions are related to the immune system or the blood supply. The spleen removes old red blood cells, called erythrocytes, from the blood supply and removes, stores and produces white blood cells or lymphocytes. These stored lymphocytes produce antibodies and assist in removing microbes and other debris from the blood supply. The spleen is located in the left upper quadrant.
All of the images from your ultrasound will then be sent to a Radiologist (interpreting physician) for a report to be generated for your referring physician. You will receive the results of your Ultrasound from your referring physician or the provider who ordered this ultrasound to be performed. Please refer back to the physician's office who sent you to obtain results of your ultrasound exams.
Abdomen Ultrasound Prep
This type of Diagnostic ultrasound requires a physician or provider order prior to performing exam.
If your doctor has ordered an Abdominal or “Abdomen” ultrasound, he/she is interested in seeing the organs that lie in your upper belly. The organs we can see on a complete Abdomen ultrasound are the liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, aorta and gallbladder.
In order to properly evaluate your abdomen, we need you to be fasting a minimum of (8) eight hours prior to your exam time. Nothing to eat or drink. If you do have to take medicine, please only use a small amount of water to take your pills.
The reason why abdomen ultrasounds require a “fasting” status is because food and some beverages cause gas or air to build up in the bowels or colon. Ultrasound cannot see through air and so anything we can do to minimize air is helpful.
The gallbladder is a digestive organ that excretes bile. In order to evaluate the gallbladder with ultrasound, it is imperative that the patient be fasting. When a patient eats, the gallbladder contracts and becomes suboptimally seen with Ultrasound.
If you forget about the fasting prep and arrive for your abdomen ultrasound, please know that we will reschedule you for an alternative appointment day to ensure you arrive properly prepped; fasting.