Liver ultrasound: why is it useful?

The ultrasound study of the liver and biliary tract is a method now entered into the routine of preventive checks and checks in daily clinical practice. Dr. Demetrio Bacaro, expert in General Surgery in Rome, talks about it

What is liver ultrasound?

It is a simple, repeatable exam, lasting about 10 minutes and for which it is always preferable to have followed a diet for  a couple of days, during which to avoid, if possible completely, bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, as well as vegetables and fruit, all foods that promote the formation of intestinal gas , which hinders a good ultrasound visualization of the whole organ. Fasting 6 – 8 hours before ultrasound is also required.

The patient is advised to undergo an ultrasound examination on the liver , based on his, symptoms, his clinical history and the results of laboratory or instrumental tests already performed.

In case of diffuse abdominal pain , especially if persistent, it is always advisable to carry out a liver ultrasound (better if enlarged to the totality of the abdomen), due to its speed of execution and the important amount of information it can provide to the attending physician for the continuation of the diagnostic and therapeutic path.

What makes it possible to identify this procedure?

With it, in fact, it is easy to document, or exclude, among other things, the presence of any gallbladder or biliary tract stones, liver enlargement, dilation of the biliary tract, widespread suffering of the whole organ. But also and perhaps above all highlight the presence of any focal lesions of the organ, whether they are cystic (i.e. filled with liquid) or solid (i.e. made up of cellular tissue).

It is precisely for the discovery and monitoring of these last images that ultrasound plays a fundamental role. Mainly in the period following many of the diagnoses and possible interventions for tumor diseases ( breast , intestine, lung, prostate, ovary, uterus, skin cancer, just to name a few), what is known as follow up, is based on surveillance, which consists in the periodic repetition of certain tests, among which a pre-eminent role, even if sometimes only initial, is covered by the liver ultrasound, often enlarged to the abdomen.

Liver ultrasound is a method that requires cutting-edge, always up-to-date and performing instruments. Moreover, the quality of the examination does not disregard the right execution time (an ultrasound done quickly is never a good exam), but also and perhaps above all by the experience of the sonographer doctor, who must be able to “know how to see” the lesions , but also to interpret them as correctly as possible.


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