Abdominal ultrasound is a non-invasive method of assessing the organs located in the abdominal cavity. It is now a first-line examination that allows imaging of primarily parenchymal organs such as the liver, kidneys, spleen, adrenal glands, and pancreas, as well as the abdominal aorta, retroperitoneal space, and urinary bladder.
The examination often allows to determine the cause of abdominal pain and to confirm or exclude the initial diagnosis made by the general practitioner based on symptoms suggesting ascites, neoplasm and many other pathologies.
Ultrasound imaging is based on the use of ultrasound waves that pass through organs and spaces of varying density and are processed to produce a grayscale image on the ultrasound screen. This image shows the abdominal organs with all the details of their structure. In this way, the person performing the test is able to determine the cause of the patient’s complaints.
The examination is painless and takes a dozen to several dozen minutes depending on the need. Then, if certain pathologies are found, the doctor who performs the examination may recommend a more detailed assessment, e.g. using computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, as well as laboratory diagnostics.
Indications for an abdominal ultrasound are:
- stomach pain,
- vomiting, nausea, dyspeptic complaints
- suspicion of cholelithiasis
- suspected kidney/urinary tract stones
- abnormalities on physical examination – enlargement of abdominal organs, ascites, tumours, jaundice
- abnormal laboratory test results
- haematuria, difficulty urinating
- the need to control and monitor the effects of treatment for a variety of conditions
- preventive health assessment of the patient
Before the examination, it is advisable to stay for several hours on an empty stomach, and in the days before the ultrasound, avoid eating bloating, hard-to-digest foods and carbonated drinks.
Like any test, an ultrasound is part of making an accurate diagnosis. Much depends on the experience and skill and knowledge of the person performing the test.
Using ultrasound, you can recognize, among others:
- liver diseases – steatosis, haemangiomas, cysts, marc lesions, metastatic lesions
- diseases of the gallbladder: gallstones, chronic and acute inflammatory changes, polyps, tumours
- pancreatic diseases: acute and chronic inflammatory lesions, cysts, tumours
- spleen diseases: splenomegaly, focal lesions
- urinary tract stones (urolithiasis), kidney tumours and cysts, hydronephrosis and less advanced cases of urinary stasis in the pyelocalyceal system, features of renal insufficiency, adrenal lesions, bladder diverticula, prostate gland enlargement
- thrombotic and aneurysmal vascular lesions
- ascites, features of portal hypertension, pleural fluid
- pathologies of the organs of the pelvis minor
Thus, ultrasound examination provides a very wide range of possibilities for preliminary diagnosis, monitoring of treatment effects and further, more extensive imaging diagnostics. It is used by doctors of various fields of medicine, especially internists and specialists in specific fields of internal medicine, including nephrologists, pulmonologists, endocrinologists, angiologists, diabetologists, etc., paediatricians, surgeons and many other specialists, which constitute the great value of this study.