Posts tagged ‘abdomen’

April 16, 2015

All About the Belly: Abdominal Ultrasound

uplifting buddha by faria! via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)Bellies are where we keep things, from laughter to turkey dinners to babies. But bellies hold more than that! The anatomically correct name for that part of the body is the abdomen. The abdomen is home to important organs including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and towards the back, the kidneys.

So when we as radiologists are asked to look into someone’s belly, we have a lot to check out! Pain in the abdomen can arise from issues with any of the  organs, the blood vessels and ducts or even the supporting tissues. Because there is so much to see, we select our tools very carefully – starting with ultrasound technology.

Ultrasound is great because images are made with harmless sound waves instead of radiation. It is fast, noninvasive, and painless. The most uncomfortable one might feel is when the tender area is evaluated in the scan. In short, it’s an easy exam.

Once the gel is applied, a transducer (fancy name for a probe) is rubbed gently across the skin. A computer calculates black, white and grey images in real time, instantly showing on a screen. Your radiologist can then interpret those images and determine what’s healthy, or what needs to be healed.

When you have a focal symptom, such as a pain, we can look specifically at the area in question, even viewing it with you in different positions (as in, it hurts right here when I do this!). Flank pain (“renal colic”), especially in young patients, those who are pregnant, and those with known kidney stones are excellent candidates for abdominal ultrasound. Right upper quadrant pain or pain after eating fatty foods can be due to gallstones – best seen and evaluated by ultrasound. Right lower quadrant pain can be an indicator of appendicitis and in kids and young adults ultrasound is a great first imaging test.

No matter what the diagnosis, it’s important to take care of your belly – and all that it holds! Ultrasound is a powerful tool in helping us help you.

(Image Credit: uplifting buddha by faria! via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

July 9, 2014

Barium: Great for Imaging, and Okay for Puns

Bariumsulfaat by Dr.T via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 UnportedImaging of the gastrointestinal system can be done many ways, using scopes, fluoroscopy/x-rays, ultrasound, CT and MRI studies. The gastrointestinal (GI) system includes everything from the mouth or oral cavity and esophagus down to the rectum and anus. The GI tract can be thought of as one long hollow tube, and filling the tube with fluid to image it with xrays was one of the earliest techniques developed when radiology was in its infancy.

 

This technique is still used today with barium sulfate the most commonly used contrast agent. Barium blocks the xrays from travelling through the body resulting in a white appearance on the image. Since its first development, many different forms of barium are now available allowing us to see different parts of the GI tract in detail.

 

Barium studies include UGIs (upper gastrointestinal exam to evaluate the esophagus, stomach and the first part of the small bowel), esophagrams (to image the esophagus), small bowel series (to image the small intestine) and barium enemas (to evaluate the colon or large intestine). Barium or other oral contrast agents may be used for CT examinations of the abdomen and pelvis, allowing better visualization of the GI tract. Over the next few posts we’ll be covering these imaging tests in detail.

 

Barium has been used for years and is inert, traveling through your system without being absorbed. It is well tolerated in almost all patients. After a study using barium, patients are advised to drink extra fluids in order to flush the barium out of their system.

 

Oh, and we promised a groaner of a pun too. What do you do with a chemist who has passed on? Barium!

(Image credit: Bariumsulfaat by Dr.T via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health atwww.mammographykc.com and general radiology atwww.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

 

March 6, 2014

Ultrasound for Appendix

Here is an example of appendicitis by ultrasound with a tubular darker gray structure at the site of symptoms corresponding with the inflamed appendix.

Here is an example of appendicitis by ultrasound with a tubular darker gray structure at the site of symptoms corresponding with the inflamed appendix.

Appendicitis is pretty common – about 680,000 people – both kids and adults – will be affected by appendicitis each year – that’s about 1 per minute in the US! The appendix is a blind-ending tube with no apparent function that extends off the first part of the colon or large intestine, in the right  lower part of the abdomen, near the hip bone.

Appendicitis may be diagnosed purely on physical signs and symptoms (right lower quadrant pain, focal tenderness, fever and elevated white blood cell count) in some patients. If the diagnosis is questioned and imaging is needed, there are several options. Ultrasound is a great first step because it is noninvasive, quick, easy and involves no radiation. Imaging right where the patient is symptomatic is also quite helpful and easy to do with ultrasound.

With ultrasound, images with gentle, slow, graded pushing on the area of symptoms in the right lower quadrant are obtained with a transducer or probe. Appendicitis shows up as a tubular structure that does not push out of the way or compress, often with changes in the adjacent fat from the inflammation. This will often cause the patient to say, “Ouch, that is where it hurts.” If the symptoms are NOT related to the appendix, ultrasound can also help identify other potential sources of pain in the area, such as ovarian cysts, problems with the kidney or problems with the small bowel among lots of other causes.

If the ultrasound is inconclusive but symptoms persist, a CT scan is also an option for evaluation of the right lower quadrant.

There are many causes for pain in the lower right abdomen – if you have symptoms, see your doctor. Your doctor – with or without the help of your friendly radiologist – can work to determine the cause of your pain and treatment needed to get you back to good health.