Can Ultrasound Detect Gallbladder Problems? banner

By westgate June 9, 2022

Can Ultrasound Detect Gallbladder Problems?

Many people will live their whole life without thinking of their gallbladder, but for others the gallbladder will become a source of chronic discomfort or pain. Gallbladder pain can come on quickly and strongly, warranting a trip to the doctor for diagnosis and relief. But how exactly are gallbladder problems identified? Can ultrasound detect gallbladder problems?

The gallbladder is a small organ located below the liver on the right side of the abdomen. When the gallbladder is healthy, it functions in tandem with the digestive system. The gallbladder stores bile from the liver, releasing it into the small intestine to assist in the digestion of fatty foods. Although helpful, the gallbladder is not actually a necessary organ; without the gallbladder, bile can move directly from the liver to intestine. 

Gallbladder problems often feel severe very quickly after their onset. Gallbladder pain can radiate through the right torso into the back. It can also cause indigestion, cramping and nausea. The source of this pain? Gallstones, which are hardened deposits of bile, or cholecystitis, which is inflammation of the organ. Gallstones and cholecystitis often go hand in hand; gallstones form and then block the flow of bile through the gallbladder, leading to swelling.

While doctors still aren’t sure what causes gallstones to form, the good news is that modern medicine allows for quick detection of gallbladder problems. An ultrasound can be used to view the gallbladder and determine if any gallstones or inflammation are present. A gel will be placed on your abdomen, and then an ultrasound wand will be guided over the area to capture images of the gallbladder internally. If gallstones or inflammation are interfering with normal functioning of the gallbladder, they will be visible on the ultrasound imaging.

If gallstones or cholecystitis are present, treatment is usually necessary. Your doctor will discuss various treatment options ranging from eating a low-fat diet to taking medication or having surgery to remove the gallbladder. Many cases will require surgical removal, but the surgery is performed laparoscopically, so it is not considered a major procedure.

If you have abdominal pain and indigestion, especially after meals, you may want to talk with your doctor about your gallbladder. At Westgate Family Physicians, we can use our on-site gallbladder ultrasound to diagnose your gallbladder problems, so you can return to living a healthy, happy, pain-free life again. Call (864) 574-0070 to schedule an appointment today.