Vision at risk

October 2009

Clinical

Demystifying abdominal ultrasound

Volume 38, No.10, October 2009 Pages 797-800

Tom Sutherland

Abdominal ultrasound is an extremely useful test for evaluation of patients with right upper quadrant pain or abnormal liver function tests. The terminology associated with ultrasound can be confusing. However, a basic understanding of ultrasound’s language, uses and limitations can eradicate confusion and greatly add to patient care. This article details how the ultrasound can be used in commonly encountered pathologies of the liver and biliary system.

Ultrasound is noninvasive, radiation free, readily available and cheap compared with computed tomography (CT ) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI ). Limitations include its operator dependent nature and suboptimal imaging in many obese patients and in patients with interposed bowel gas.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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