Abdominal Ultrasound

What is an Abdominal Ultrasound?

Abdominal ultrasounds are performed to evaluate for possible abnormalities in abdominal/retroperitoneal structures such as the pancreas, bladder, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, and spleen as well as the abdominal aorta. It is often used to rule out or monitor abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a bulging of the aorta in the abdominal region.

Why is this test performed?

The typical use of an abdominal ultrasound is to check or evaluate for AAA. Abdominal ultrasounds can also aid in detecting issues within other abdominal organs. Your physician may want to monitor your abdominal organs via ultrasound testing to evaluate pain you’re experiencing and potential association with medical issues such as kidney stones or tumors.
AAA does not typically cause initial pain but abdominal or back pain can occur. If the bulging of the aorta bursts, it can be life threatening, so your physician may order you for an abdominal aortic ultrasound to evaluate your abdominal discomforts. For more information on AAA, please visit our Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound webpage under Vascular Ultrasound Services.

How is this test performed?

The patient lies on the exam table, exposing the area requiring an ultrasound. The sonographer will put a warm water-based gel on the skin, which helps transmit sound waves through the transducer. The sonographer will move the transducer over the area of interest in order to obtain ultrasound images. The test should take approximately 15-20 minutes.

How do I prepare for this test?

These exams are typically scheduled in the morning. The patient should fast for at least 6 hours before the exam. If you take medications in the morning, it’s okay to take them with small sips of water. When you schedule with us, we will review the preparation instructions with you and answer any questions you may have.

Are there risks associated with an abdominal ultrasound?

There is no known risk associated with an abdominal ultrasound.​