March is National Kidney Month, which reminds us that the health of our kidneys is crucial to our overall well-being. Many don’t realize how much the kidneys do for the body, and when they’re not working properly, it can affect our overall health. An abdominal ultrasound can help discover issues that may be occurring within your kidneys.
What is an abdominal ultrasound?
An abdominal ultrasound is a noninvasive, non–radiation-based outpatient diagnostic exam used to evaluate the abdominal structures, including your abdominal aorta, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and kidneys. Ultrasound helps assess the size, shape, and location of the kidneys as well as blood flow to the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for:
- Removing liquid waste from the blood, in the form of urine
- Keeping a stable balance of salts and other substances in the blood
- Producing erythropoietin, a hormone that aids in the formation of red blood cells
- Regulating blood pressure
Preparing for an abdominal ultrasound
Typically, no prior preparation such as fasting or sedation is required for an abdominal ultrasound. Most exams will require you to drink at least 24 ounces of clear fluid at least one hour before your appointment. Do not empty your bladder until after the procedure is complete.
How is an abdominal ultrasound performed?
During an abdominal ultrasound, first a special gel is applied to the abdomen to help glide a transducer over your skin and eliminate any air pockets between the skin and the transducer. The transducer sends out extremely high-frequency sound waves, which travel through your body and are reflected back by different types of tissue at different rates. The transducer receives back these “echoes” and translates the different rates of reflection as different-looking images that help us to “see” what’s going on inside the body through a monitor.
What can an abdominal ultrasound detect?
When evaluating your ultrasound results, the tests can reveal:
- Kidney size
- Signs of damage to the kidneys
- Tumors or cysts
- The presence of kidney stones or blockages
- Other abnormalities of the kidneys
- Complications as the result of a urinary tract infection
For more information, or to schedule an abdominal ultrasound appointment, call the sonographers at Alaska Family Sonograms today at (907) 885-0390.