Abdominal ultrasound

Last revised by Yaïr Glick on 23 May 2023

Abdominal ultrasound is a diagnostic imaging technique that evaluates the organs and structures in the abdomen, including the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, adrenal glands, kidneys, and abdominal aorta.

Normal ultrasound anatomy

On an ultrasound, the normal anatomy of the liver appears as a homogeneous, hypoechoic or isoechoic structure with a smooth surface, showing diffusely increased echogenicity relative to the spleen. The following features are typical of normal ultrasound anatomy of the liver:

  • location: The liver is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen

  • size: The liver is approximately 15 cm in length and 10-12 cm in width at its widest point

  • segments: The liver is divided into eight segments and each segment has its own blood supply and drainage

  • lobes: The liver is divided into two main lobes, the right and left lobes

  • Couinaud segments: The liver is also divided into four Couinaud segments, and each segment is supplied by a specific branch of the hepatic artery and portal vein

  • vasculature: The portal vein, hepatic artery, and hepatic veins are visible on an ultrasound

  • biliary system: The bile ducts, including the common bile duct and the intrahepatic ducts, are visible on an ultrasound

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