What Will an Ultrasound of the Gallbladder Show? banner

By westgate April 28, 2021

What Will an Ultrasound of the Gallbladder Show?

Ultrasounds are not just for pregnant women. Ultrasounds are a truly amazing non-invasive method for doctors to view internal areas of your body such as your gallbladder to diagnose conditions such as inflammation or blockage (gallstone).

Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located beneath your liver on the right side of your abdomen. This organ stores bile that is produced by the liver and releases this bile into the small intestine to digest fatty foods.

Sometimes one or more gallstones can form in the gallbladder. These are simply hard deposits of crystallized bile that can range in size from very tiny to golf-ball sized. As you can imagine, larger gallstones will create more discomfort. If the gallstones cause a blockage, there can be sudden, intense pain.

An ultrasound can be used to assess the bile ducts and diagnose gallstones. During a gallbladder ultrasound, your doctor places a hand-held wand (transducer) on your abdomen that has been lubricated with a gel. The transducer transmits millions of high-frequency sound waves through the gallbladder. The sounds will easily pass through fluids and soft tissues, but when the sound encounters a denser section in the gallbladder, the waves will bounce back to the machine and provide a 2-dimensional image of the gallstone. As the doctor moves the transducer around your skin, different views of the gallstone can be obtained.

What Causes Gallstones?

There is no singular reason why gallstones form. If your liver produces too much cholesterol or bilirubin, the bile in your gallbladder may not be able to properly dissolve these secretions, leading to the creation of gallstones. Another reason why gallstones may form is that your gallbladder is unable to completely empty often enough, creating a build-up of bile that can crystallize.

Treatment for Gallstones

If your gallstone is small, is not blocking the bile ducts and is not causing you discomfort, you may not need any treatment. However, if you have intensifying pain, your doctor may prescribe medication to help dissolve the gallstone. In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend that your gallbladder be removed (cholecystectomy). The good news is that your gallbladder can be removed without affecting your body’s ability to digest food.

The team at Westgate Family Physicians routinely performs gallbladder ultrasounds in Spartanburg, SC. If you are experiencing any type of abdominal pain, back pain, pain in your right shoulder, yellowing of the skin/eyes (jaundice) or nausea/vomiting, our team may recommend an ultrasound procedure for you. Please call (864) 574-0070 or click here to schedule an appointment.