Gallbladder, Kidney & Liver Ultrasound


GallBladderThe upper abdomen is imaged using high resolution ultrasound. For an ultrasound exam the patient is asked to be “NPO” after midnight which stands for a Latin term “nothing per os”. This means the patient should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before their ultrasound appointment. During the abdominal ultrasound exam the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas, spleen, blood vessels and both the right and left kidneys are evaluated.

The liver is examined as part of a comprehensive ultrasound exam of the abdomen. Abnormalities that can be evaluated include cirrhosis, fatty infiltration, tumors, abscess or cyst formations within the liver. A patient may have abnormal blood work that would be an indication for an abdominal ultrasound.

Ultrasound examination of the gallbladder and bile ducts is included in a comprehensive abdominal scan. Ultrasound is the modality of choice for imaging the gallbladder to document gallstones.

Specific indications for pancreatic scanning include abdominal pain, clinical suspicion of pancreatitis or abnormal lab values. The bile duct travels from the liver through the head of the pancreas before terminating in the small bowel. The pancreas is evaluated in cases of jaundice to check for obstruction of the bile duct either by stones or structural abnormalities of the pancreas causing the obstruction.

GallBladderwithStonesUltrasound examinations of the spleen are performed to assess overall splenic architecture. In patients with mono, ultrasound is used to determine the size of the spleen, because with mono the spleen may become enlarged and at risk for rupture.

Ultrasound of the kidneys assess overall renal architecture. Evaluate for renal masses or kidney stones that may or may not be causing obstruction of urine into the kidneys. The renal size, “echo texture” and vascularity can be evaluated using ultrasound. Many times the bladder will also be imaged when evaluating the kidneys.

While evaluating the organs of the upper abdomen, two of main vessels in the abdomen will be included in the exam. The aorta, which carries blood away from the heart, is primarily evaluated to document the presence of an aneurysm. Aortic aneurysms are defined as those with vessel dilatation greater than 3 centimeters. The size of the IVC, a vein that carries blood back to the heart, is documented, as well. An increased IVC size can be an indicator of cardiac disease.

Frequently Asked Questions about Abdominal Ultrasound

Why can't I eat or drink before having my abdominal ultra sound?

This answer takes two parts. The first is tied to your gallbladder, when you eat anything a reaction in your body is triggered and the gallbladder empties. So, when you haven’t eaten, your gallbladder is nice and full, much like a balloon full of water and we can see inside easily. This is crucial in order to evaluate the gallbladder for gallstones or other problems such as polyps or sludge which can form within.

Secondly, when you eat you swallow air. This air fills your stomach and intestines. Air is ultrasound’s enemy. Our sound waves hit air and essentially stop causing great difficulty in imaging the organs of your abdomen. Often some organs may not be seen at all due to air-filled bowel and gas.

Can I Chew Gum or Smoke Before My Abdominal Ultrasound?

No, when you chew gum or smoke, you often swallow air. This, as mentioned above, can compromise your exam.

How Am I Supposed To Take My Medication If I'm Not Supposed To Eat or Drink?

You can take your medication, just be sure you take it with water. A couple of sips of water are fine and should not compromise the exam.

Can You See Ulcers With Ultrasounds?

No, ultrasound is not the best imaging mode to evaluate the stomach or bowel because both contain air.

How Do I Schedule My Ultrasound At Sound Health Imaging?

You have a choice where your ultrasound is done. Tell your healthcare provider that you would like to have your ultrasound scheduled at Sound Health Imaging. Or you can call our office and make your ultrasound appointment and then bring your Doctor’s order with you at the time of exam.

Are You A Network Provider For Blue Cross Blue Shield and New West Insurance Companies?

Yes, we are premium providers for both Blue Cross and New West and bill all major insurances including Medicaid and Medicare.

Is the Radiologist Who Reads The Exam A Network Provider?

Sound Health Imaging contracts with Capital Radiology to interpret the ultrasound exams. We pay the radiologist for the interpretation, so the patient does not get a second bill from interpreting physician.

How Long Does It Take For the Doctor To Get the Results of My Exam?

Our goal is for your referring health care provider to receive the Ultrasound report the next business day following your appointment.