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Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Abdominal Sonography


What is Abdominal Sonography?

Abdominal sonography is a useful way of examining internal organs, such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, spleen, and urinary bladder by sending high-frequency sound waves into the body.  The reflected sound waves are returned as echoes which are then recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. Abdominal sonography is a noninvasive imaging test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. An abdominal ultrasound documents the abdominal organs and other structures in the upper abdomen.

What is an Abdominal Sonogram?

An abdominal sonogram can help to diagnose a variety of conditions and to assess damage caused by illness.  Organs such as the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and kidneys will be evaluated during an abdominal sonogram.  Patients are referred for sonograms for various reasons, some of which are: abdominal pain, abnormal lab results, and enlarged abdominal organs.  An abdominal sonographer will be required to image small body parts as well.  These parts include: thyroid gland, testicles, breast, and various soft tissue body parts.  Doctors can also use abdominal sonography to guide them as they perform needle biopsies on abdominal organs.  The abdominal track is taught in conjunction with Breast Sonography and the OB/GYN track at Montgomery College.

How are Abdominal Ultrasound Images Obtained?

During abdominal sonography, a hand-held device called a "transducer" is placed on the area being examined and moved around. This transducer generates ultrasound and sends it through the body. It also detects the returning echoes and transmits them as electrical signals. Because one transducer continuously generates many ultrasound waves while detecting echoes, a real time image can be produced on a viewing monitor. These images can be recorded on videotape, or images can be frozen and recorded on to film.

During abdominal sonography, lubricating gel is applied to the skin so that the transducer can be moved around to produce real time images. Ultrasound is similar to audible sound in that it can pass through water and human organs easily, but it can't pass through air or bone. So gel is applied between the transducer and the skin to bridge the gap, and effectively send the ultrasound waves. Because ultrasound images are real time images, blood flow, blood vessels, bowel movement, and the movement of internal organs from breathing can be seen.

Use of abdominal sonography

Abdominal sonography is safe, painless, easy, fast, and widely available. One advantage using ultrasound to image the abdomen over other imaging modalities is that there is no radiation. Real time imaging ultrasonography can be used to guide invasive procedures such as biopsy, and to visualize bowel movement and blood flow. In case of an emergency, bedside sonography can be done without particular patient preparations.

Abdominal sonography is used to investigate the abdomen for a number of reasons including; abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, to detect causes of fever, serial follow up of known abnormalities in the abdomen, such as gallstones, liver cirrhosis, cyst, benign tumor, etc, to examine blood flow; to discover blockage and/or atherosclerotic plaque, blood clot in the arteries, and veins of the abdomen and to guide invasive procedures such as needle biopsy and withdrawal of fluid

For more information on earning potential and work environment of sonographers visit the Inside Scoop.


The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) was founded in 1970 to promote, advance, and educate its members and the medical community in the science of Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) promotes quality care and patient safety through the certification and continuing competency of ultrasound professionals

The mission of the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography(JRC-DMS) and its sponsoring organizations is to cooperate to establish, maintain, and promote appropriate standards of quality for educational programs in diagnostic medical sonography and to provide recognition for educational programs that meet or exceed the standards.

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs(CAAHEP) is the largest programmatic/specialized accreditor in the health sciences field. In collaboration with its Committees on Accreditation, CAAHEP reviews and accredits more than 2000 educational programs in twenty-one health science occupations across the United States and Canada.













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