What is Liver Ultrasound?
Liver ultrasound is a safe and painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the cause of unexplained pain in the upper-right abdomen area (where the liver is located) in a non-invasive manner. In this scan, multiple images of the blood vessels within the liver are generated using sound waves.
The liver ultrasound helps doctors in examining the liver and detecting abnormalities such as cysts or tumors, which can then be tested for cancer if needed. It also helps in the diagnosis and management of chronic liver diseases.
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Who Should Get a Liver Ultrasound?
Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound of the liver if you have one or more of the following ailments or symptoms:
- Pain and swelling in the abdomen
- Swelling of legs and ankles
- Chronic fatigue
- Dark urine color
- Severe itching
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dark colored stool
- Eyes and skin color appearing yellowish (jaundice)
- Increased tendency to bruise easily
What is the Purpose of a Liver Ultrasound?
Your doctor may recommend a liver ultrasound to:
- Evaluate unusual pain in the upper-right abdomen area with uncommon symptoms.
- Look for damage to blood vessels in the liver after an injury.
- Evaluate the shape and size of the liver, as well as blood flow through the liver.
- Detect increased stiffness of the liver caused by liver fibrosis (formation of an abnormally large amount of scar tissue in the liver).
- Diagnose abnormal liver function.
- Diagnose fatty liver disease (when there’s too much fat built-up inside the liver and causes it to inflame).
- Detect tumors in the liver.
- Assess blood vessels before planning liver transplant surgery.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Abdomen MRI to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the liver. Your doctor may also recommend a Liver Function Test (Liver Enzymes) to evaluate and monitor your liver functions. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How is a Liver Ultrasound Performed?
- Before starting the liver ultrasound, you will have to take off your clothes till your upper abdomen area and lie face-up on an examination table.
- A sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel on your abdomen.
- The sonographer will then take a small hand-held camera (known as probe) attached to an ultrasound screen and place it over your abdomen.
- The sonographer will move the probe back and forth on your abdomen and a moving picture will appear on the ultrasound screen.
- The sonographer will give you instructions such as ‘stay still’ and ‘hold your breath for 5 to 8 seconds’ and will then take multiple screenshots of the moving images using the ultrasound machine. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
- Once the scan is complete, you will be asked to wipe off the clear ultrasound gel from your skin.
How Long Does a Liver Ultrasound Take?
A liver ultrasound scan is usually completed within 30 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Liver Ultrasound?
No. Unlike X-ray imaging, there is no ionizing radiation exposure associated with ultrasound imaging.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Liver Ultrasound?
Standard diagnostic ultrasound is a safe procedure that uses low-power sound waves. There are no known risks.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the liver ultrasound is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Liver Ultrasound?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.