US abdomen (summary)

Last revised by Patrick J Rock on 15 Dec 2020
This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Ultrasound abdomen is one of the tests that is commonly used in the assessment of patients with abdominal pain. It is particularly useful for the assessment of solid organs and fluid-filled structures.

Reference article

This is a summary article; we do not have a more in-depth reference article.

  • indications
    • abdominal pain
    • altered liver function tests
    • jaundice
    • renal symptoms (consider renal US)
  • important pathology
  • benefits
    • quick and accessible
    • no radiation
  • limitations
    • operator dependent
    • large patients can be challenging to image with ultrasound
  • procedure
    • patient fasted for 4 hours
      • maximizes distension of the gallbladder
      • not required post cholecystectomy
    • patient scanned supine
      • oblique and lateral positions may be used during the study
  • US renal
    • just the kidneys and bladder
  • US pelvis
    • exclusively for female patients
    • performed with a full bladder
    • uterus, ovaries and adnexa
    • can be performed TA (transabdominal) or TV (transvaginal)
  • CT abdomen
    • will give a greater degree of information about the whole abdomen
    • better assessment of the proximal small bowel and most of the large bowel than with ultrasound (distal small bowel and proximal large bowel is well seen on ultrasound)

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