Why Would a Doctor Order an Ultrasound of my Gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small organ directly below the liver. The gallbladder stores bile made by the liver, secreting it into the intestines as needed to help the body digest fatty foods. Although not an essential organ, if something seems amiss, your doctor may order an ultrasound in order to determine the underlying cause of your pain. But, why? What can be wrong with the gallbladder?
There are several conditions of the gallbladder that can be diagnosed with an abdominal ultrasound. These include:
Cholecystitis: When the gallbladder becomes inflamed, it is called cholecystitis. If the gallbladder becomes blocked, bile can not exit and swelling occurs. Oftentimes the cause is gallstones, small hardened deposits of material such as cholesterol. If the inflammation is not found and treated, the gallbladder can become infected.
Gallbladder polyps: Like the polyps found in the nose, gallbladder polyps are small, benign growths of tissue that grow on the organ. Although the cause isn’t always identifiable (they can be caused by abnormal cells in the gallbladder or by too much cholesterol), treatment is important. If left untreated, polyps may continue to grow and become cancerous.
General pain: If you are suffering from pain in your upper right abdomen, your doctor may choose to order an abdominal ultrasound to get an inside look at your gallbladder, as well as other abdominal organs. Pain in this area can be difficult to diagnose without the use of an ultrasound because there are several organs in the area, and pain from one can radiate to other areas of the body, making it tricky to pinpoint the source from an external exam alone.
If your doctor orders an ultrasound of your gallbladder, you can expect to be in the office for about 30 minutes. You’ll lie on your back and your doctor or ultrasound technician will apply a gel to your abdomen, followed by a wand-like transponder. They’ll move the wand back and forth, capturing pictures at all angles to get a clear view of your gallbladder and other abdominal organs. Usually there is no prep necessary, but your doctor may ask you to fast or adjust your diet in the day leading up to the exam.
If you are experiencing pain in your upper right abdomen, it’s important to be examined by a doctor sooner rather than later. They may order an ultrasound of your gallbladder in addition to other tests. Gallbladder pain is more than an inconvenience; it can be dangerous if left untreated.
If you are suffering from abdominal pain, especially on the right side, the physicians at Westgate Family Physicians are ready to treat you so you can find relief. Call (864) 574-0070 to schedule an appointment today.