Abdominal Problems

Abdominal Ultrasound an excellent, first line & second tier, non-invasive technique that is widely used to evaluate the source and cause of abdominal pain and to clarify the functional significance of abnormal blood or urine tests.  The technique uses high frequency ultrasound, normally in the 2.5 - 3.5 mHz range to clearly image in two dimensions (2D) the liver, gallbladder, right kidney, left kidney, pancreas, spleen, many of the major arteries and veins, and the urinary bladder.

Common reasons: 

  1. Pain after eating, generally around the middle or in the right quadrants of the abdomen.  Suggests possible gallbladder, liver, or pancreas problems.
  2. Vague discomfort with a sensation of fullness or a focal area of discomfort that is hard to describe by the patient.
  3. Trauma: image the entire abdomen after falling to evaluate for presense of blood in the wrong places or damage to any organ.
  4. Mononucleosis ("kissing disease") that may manifest in an inflammed or swollen SPLEEN. 
  5. Blood in the urine, either visible (gross) or microscopic (not visible to eye).  Focus would be the kidneys and bladder.
  6. Elevated LIVER ENZYMES which may manifest in a large liver or abnormal structure
  7. Elevated PANCREATIC ENZYMES which may manifest in a inflammed pancreas or (rarely) a pancreatic mass.
  8. Elevated abnormal Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) or elevated Creatine (CR) levels which may indicate possible structural KIDNEY disease.
  9. Abdominal aorta is 'pulsating' suggesting the size of the aorta may be abnormal.  It is uncommon for this to be a sign of AAA (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm).
  10. Incidental or non-specific findings on a CHEST X-RAY, MRI, or CAT scan.  Ultrasound is very good to define MASSES, CYSTS, and atypical structures.

Abdominal ultrasound is the first line technique, the least expensive, the most benign, and the most cost effective test that there is in community medical imaging.  A complete study evaluating the liver, gallbladder, both kidneys, the pancreas, spleen, and the major arteries and veins in the abdomen may take up to 45 minutes. 

Unless directed otherwise by a clinician, always FAST at least 8 HOURS prior to an abdominal Ultrasound.  Take medicine, as prescribed.  Drinking is OK as long as it is done with a straw to keep ingestion of air to a minimum.  Ultrasound cannot image past air. 

Always ensure and ASK the sonographer or physician conducting the exam if they are REGISTERED by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).  This ensures a minimum skill level for a very complex technique.  If the sonographer is NOT registered, it does not imply they are incompetent.  Should the insurance carrier determine the sonographer is not registered or the lab within which the exam was conducted is NOT ACCREDITED, this could be a basis to deny paying for the procedure.

Vital Health Scores Integrative Imaging Center has all the tools required to do excellent abdominal imaging and for it to be conducted by a skilled, registered, experience sonographer.  Call, text, email, or visit us to learn more!  (231) 943.2002

Author
Mark Zemanek Technical Director, Vital Health Scores

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