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Abdominal Ultrasound

An abdominal ultrasound takes pictures of the organs and other structures in your upper belly. It uses sound waves to show images on a screen.

Areas that can be checked include the:

  • Abdominal aorta camera.gif. This large blood vessel passes down the back of the chest and belly. It supplies blood to the lower part of the body and the legs.
  • Liver camera.gif. This large organ lies under the rib cage on the right side of the belly. It makes bile (a substance that helps digest fat). It also stores sugars and breaks down many of the body's waste products.
  • Gallbladder camera.gif. This small organ is right under the liver. It stores bile. When you eat, the gallbladder contracts to send bile to the bowels (intestines). The bile helps your body digest food and absorb vitamins that dissolve in fat.
  • Spleen. This organ helps fight infection. It also filters old red blood cells. The spleen sits to the left of the stomach, just behind the lower left ribs.
  • Pancreas camera.gif. This gland is in the upper belly. It makes enzymes that help digest food. The digestive enzymes then move into the bowels. The pancreas also releases insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin helps the body use sugars for energy.
  • Kidneys camera.gif. This pair of organs is in the upper part of your belly, but toward your back. The kidneys remove wastes from the blood. They also make urine.

If your doctor needs more details about a specific organ in the upper part of your belly, you may get a special ultrasound, such as a kidney ultrasound. If you need the structures and organs in your lower belly checked, you will get a pelvic ultrasound.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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