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What is abdominal ultrasound scanning?

Ultrasound scanning, also called ultrasound imaging or sonography, is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of highfrequency sound waves. The sound waves are recorded and displayed as a real-time image. No ionizing radiation is involved in ultrasound imaging.

Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show movement of internal tissues and organs, and enable physicians to see blood flow.

Why would I need the procedure?

Ultrasound imaging is used extensively for evaluating the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and blood vessels of the abdomen. Because it provides real-time images, it can also be used to:

  • Guide procedures such as needle biopsies, in which a needle is used to sample cells from an organ for laboratory testing
  • Help a physician determine the source of abdominal pain, such as stones in the gallbladder or kidney, or an inflamed appendix
  • Help identify the cause for enlargement of an abdominal organ

Doppler ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound study that is used in the examination of major blood vessels. These images can help the physician to see and evaluate:

  • Blockages to blood flow, such as clots
  • Build-up of plaque inside the vessel
  • Congenital malformations

With knowledge about the speed and volume of blood flow gained from ultrasound imaging, the doctor often can determine whether you are a good candidate for a procedure such as angioplasty.