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Abdominal Ultrasound Scan


Brief Description – Abdominal ultrasound scan is a type of imaging test. It makes images using sound waves to enable examination of various organs in the abdomen like the liver, gallbladder, spleen, uterus (womb), pancreas and kidneys. The major blood vessels that lead to some of these organs can also be examined with an ultrasound.

Why the Test is Performed

You may have this test to:

  •  Confirm pregnancy, follow up and know the sex of your baby during pregnancy
  •  Find the cause of abdominal pain
  •  Find the cause of kidney problems or infections
  •  Diagnose a hernia
  •  Diagnose and monitor tumours and cancers
  •  Diagnose or treat ascites
  •  Learn why there is swelling of an abdominal organ
  •  Look for damage after an injury
  •  Look for stones in the gallbladder or kidney
  •  Look for the cause of abnormal blood tests such as liver function tests or kidney tests
  •  Look for the cause of a fever like an abscess or inflamed organThe reason for the test will depend on your symptoms.

    How the Test is Performed

  • An ultrasound machine makes images of organs and structures inside the body. The machine sends out high-frequency sound waves that reflect off body structures. A computer receives these waves and uses them to create a picture.
  • You will be lying down for the procedure.
  • A clear, water-based conducting gel is applied to the skin over the abdomen by ahospital sonographer or your doctor. The gel may feel cold and wet.
  • A handheld probe called a transducer is then moved over the abdomen. You may need to change position so that the doctor can look at different areas. You may also need to hold your breath for short periods during the exam. Most of the time, the test takes less than 30 minutes.

How to Prepare For the Test

Preparation steps vary depending on the problem. Most of the time, people are asked not to eat or drink for several hours before the exam. For pregnant women (especially early in the pregnancy) you may be asked to drink water. Your doctor will tell you what to do if need be.

During the Test

You have to stay still during the test and follow the instructions. A little discomfort may be felt because of the wetness and coldness of the gel that will be applied on your belly area.

After the Test

You will be given tissue paper to clean the gel off and make yourself feel comfortable. 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.


There is no known risk. You are not exposed to any form of radiation.

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