A limited abdominal ultrasound examination is a focused study that uses sound waves to create images of specific organs and soft tissues of the abdomen. It is performed to identify any anatomical abnormalities. Structures of urological interest could be the kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate gland and related soft tissues.
An abdominal ultrasound can be used to identify conditions such as:
- Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity
- Kidney stones
- Kidney blockage or cancer
- Organ enlargement
- Blood clots
- Prostate hypertrophy
An abdominal ultrasound can also be used while performing biopsies of masses and aspiration or drainage of cysts and abscesses within the abdomen.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your abdominal ultrasound. Usually, you will be required to fast for 8-12 hours prior to the procedure. However, you may drink water and take medications as specified by your doctor.
For the procedure, you must lie down on the scanning table. A gel will be applied on your abdomen. An ultrasound transducer which is shaped like a microphone will be moved along specific areas of your abdomen. Sound waves emitted by the transducer will bounce off the anatomic structures within the abdomen to produce images on a monitor. You may be required to change positions to better visualize the area being examined. A limited abdominal ultrasound exam can usually be completed within 30 minutes.
An ultrasound may be contraindicated in certain conditions such as:
- Severe obesity
- Food in the stomach
- Residual barium from a prior barium swallow test
- Excess intestinal gas
Unlike x-rays or CT scans, the ultrasound uses no radiation and is a very safe procedure.