Right Upper Quadrant Ultrasound

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A right upper quadrant ultrasound examines several key organs of the digestive system such as the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and right kidney, checking for the source of pain or for any abnormalities.

  • Liver: The liver regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes a product called bile. 
  • Pancreas: Your pancreas makes pancreatic juices called enzymes. These enzymes break down sugars, fats, and starches. 
  • Gallbladder: A gallbladder’s primary function is to store and concentrate bile, a yellow-brown digestive enzyme produced by the liver.
  • Right kidney: Your kidneys remove waste and extra fluid from your body.

What is a right upper quadrant ultrasound?

The right upper quadrant ultrasound is a procedure where the sonographer looks at your digestive system in the abdomen, focusing on the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and right kidney. Using an ultrasound transducer, or wand, this test is usually done if you have pain on the right side of your stomach, and it should determine the source of the pain. 

We look for multiple disease processes such as:

  • Liver enlargement 
  • Abnormal liver function 
  • Enlarged abdominal organs 
  • Gallstones 
  • Cancer 
  • Fluid in the abdomen or abdomen distention 
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What will I experience during and after the procedure?

For a right upper quadrant procedure, a patient will lie on a comfortable table. Most patients will change into a hospital gown, or you will need to pull up or remove their shirt.

Here is how the test works:

    • Applies gel to your abdomen: Water-soluble gel will cover any areas on your belly that the provider will examine. This gel may feel cold or chilly, but it will not hurt you or damage your clothes.
    • Moves the probe over your skin: The technician gently moves the handheld ultrasound wand over your skin, on top of the gel. The technician moves the probe back and forth until they clearly see the areas in question.
    • Gives you instructions: The sonographer performing this test has received training in how to achieve the clearest images. They may ask you to turn to one side or hold your breath for a few seconds.
    • Cleans your skin: The technician wipes off any remaining gel on your skin.
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Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

The radiologist will read the exams performed by the sonographer.

It generally takes around 7-14 days to get results.

If you need to receive the results by email, it usually takes about 5 days.

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What are some common uses of this procedure?

Abdominal ultrasound imaging is performed to evaluate these organs:

  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Gallbladder
  • Bile ducts
  • Pancreas
  • Spleen
  • Abdominal aorta and other blood vessels of the abdomen

Ultrasound is used to help diagnose numerous conditions:

  • Abdominal pain or distention (enlargement)
  • Abnormal liver function
  • Enlarged abdominal organ
  • Gallstones
  • Cancer
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Ultrasound may be used to help with biopsies

During an abdominal biopsy, your doctor may use an ultrasound to see where to place the needle to remove a small sample of tissue.

Ultrasounds may also help your doctor drain fluid from a cyst or abscess, and they can also examine blood flow inside your abdomen.

Ultrasounds are used for many different types of biopsies. 

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