Ultrasonography of the abdomen and pelvis

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Author: Mikael Häggström [notes 1]


Choice of exam

For patients presenting with symptoms that are less specific for any certain organ, such as unspecific acute abdominal pain, consider an abdominal/pelvic CT instead.

At least 6 hours of fasting[notes 2]


  • The target structures are known to be superficial to any intestines
  • The case is emergent enough to justify a suboptimal exam


General screening

Upper abdomen

For symptoms of the upper abdomen, it is a proper custom to perform a general screening of the following locations:

Maximum length of the spleen.

Also, it is generally easy to have a quick glance at the kidneys just to exclude hydronephrosis.
In case of suspected pathology, see: Ultrasonography of the urinary system


Example in a normal case:
Gallbladder with thin wall and no gallstones. Normal width of the intra-and extrahepatic bile ducts.
Liver with normal echogenicity and no focal lesions.
Normal head and body of the pancreas.
Normally sized spleen.

This example is Public Domain, and can be copied without any need for author attribution.
See also: General notes on reporting

Lower abdomen

Ultrasonographies of the lower abdomen can generally be focused on the condition requested in the referral.

Diseases and conditions

Biliary tract




Epigastric bulding


  1. For a full list of contributors, see article history. Creators of images are attributed at the image description pages, seen by clicking on the images. See Radlines:Authorship for details.
  2. Otherwise high risk of intestines obscuring the organ of interest.
    - NU Hospital Group, Sweden


  1. Hoeffel, Christine; Azizi, Louisa; Lewin, Maité; Laurent, Valérie; Aubé, Christophe; Arrivé, Lionel; Tubiana, Jean-Michel (2006). "Normal and Pathologic Features of the Postoperative Biliary Tract at 3D MR Cholangiopancreatography and MR Imaging ". RadioGraphics 26 (6): 1603–1620. doi:10.1148/rg.266055730. ISSN 0271-5333.