Test Details & Preparation
Ultrasound scans use high-frequency sound waves to capture images and video. This helps doctors view portions of the body’s interior without making an incision. Ultrasound helps doctors understand what’s going on inside your body. This test is most commonly used on pregnant women to view and examine their foetuses. Abdominal ultrasounds are used for a variety of reasons. They are non-invasive and widely available.
Abdominal ultrasounds are used to check ailments of the major organs in the abdominal cavity. These organs include your gallbladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and spleen. Conditions for which your doctor may request an ultrasound include abdominal aortic aneurysms, blood clots, enlarged organs, fluid in the abdominal cavity, gallstones, kidney blockage or cancer, kidney stones, liver cancer, pain in the abdomen and tumours.
An abdominal ultrasound carries no risks. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, ultrasounds use no radiation, which is why they are the preferred method for examining foetuses. You may feel slight discomfort during the procedure if you’re experiencing pain in your abdomen.
Your doctor will usually instruct you to fast for eight to 12 hours before your ultrasound. This is because undigested food can block the sound waves, making it difficult for the technician to get a clear picture. You should, however, continue to drink water and take your medications as instructed. For an examination of the gallbladder, liver, pancreas, or spleen, you may be instructed to eat a fat-free meal the evening before your test, before beginning your fast.
At a follow-up appointment, your doctor will discuss with you the results and any treatment options if the test turns up anything of note.