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Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Abdominal Sonography

What is Abdominal Sonography?

Liver and Right KidneyAbdominal sonography is a noninvasive imaging test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions by utilizing soundwaves to visualize abdominal structures. An abdominal sonogram can help to diagnose a variety of conditions and to assess damage caused by illness. Doctors can also use abdominal sonography to guide them as they perform needle biopsies on abdominal organs. Abdominal sonography specifically focuses on structures in the upper abdomen.

How are Abdominal Ultrasound Images Obtained?

An abdominal sonogram is performed using an ultrasound machine with a transducer and coupling gel. Coupling gel is placed on the area of interest between the skin and the transducer. The coupling gel provides a bridge between the transducer and the skin. This is necessary because ultrasound cannot pass through air or bone. The transducer generates ultrasound which is directed through the coupling gel into the body. As the ultrasound wave encounters structures within the body they are reflected back toward the transducer. These echoes are then sent to the ultrasound machine as electrical signals which are then converted to an image and displayed on the monitor. These images can be recorded as digital motion clips or as still images. Due to the real time nature of sonography blood flow, blood vessels, bowel movement, and movement of internal organs from breathing can be visualized.

What type of exams are included in Abdominal Sonography?

Gallbladder with SludgePatients are referred for abdominal sonograms for various reasons including: abdominal pain, abnormal lab results, and enlarged abdominal organs. An abdominal ultrasound documents the abdominal organs and other structures in the upper abdomen such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, spleen, aorta, inferior vena cava, and urinary bladder.

An abdominal sonographer will also be required to image small body parts. Small body parts include: thyroid gland, neck structures, testicles, breast, and various other soft tissue body parts. At Montgomery College the Abdominal Sonography track is taught in conjunction with Breast Sonography and the Obstetrical and Gynecological Sonography track.

Why is Abdominal Sonography used?

Abdominal sonography is a non-invasive, safe, painless, affordable, fast, and widely available imaging modality. One advantage to using ultrasound to image the abdomen over other imaging modalities is that there is no radiation exposure. This allows for multiple ultrasounds to be performed to monitor conditions or follow the progression of illness or recovery.

Real time imaging ultrasonography can be used to guide invasive procedures such as biopsy, fluid removal such as paracentesis, and to visualize bowel movement and blood flow. In case of an emergency, bedside sonography can be done without particular patient preparations.

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


Spleen with Color DopplerThe 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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