Ultrasound imaging is used extensively for evaluating the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and blood vessels of the abdomen. Because it provides real-time images, it can also be used to:
- Guide procedures such as needle biopsies, in which needles are used to sample cells from organs for laboratory testing.
- Help a physician determine the source of many abdominal pains, such as stones in the gall bladder or kidney, or an inflamed appendix.
- Help identify the cause for enlargement of an abdominal organ.
Doppler ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound study that examines major blood vessels. These images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
- Blockages to blood flow, such as clots.
- Build-up of plaque inside the vessel.
- Congenital malformation.
With knowledge about the speed and volume of blood flow gained from an ultrasound image, the physician can often determine whether a patient is a good candidate for a procedure like angioplasty.