What Can Abdominal Scan Show?
If and when you have severe abdominal pain, constipation, urinary problems, heartburn, bloating, nausea, or prolonged diarrhea accompanied by fever, your doctor may recommend an abdominal scan.
Multiple modalities exist today to scan your abdominal organs and tissues, such as an abdominal X-ray, Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Ultrasound (US), and so forth!
Now, you must be wondering what an abdominal scan shows! Well, that is what we shall discuss in detail in this blog. So, keep reading!
What Is An Abdominal Scan?
An abdominal scan is typically an imaging test conducted on patients to look at the abdominal structures from outside the body. Yes. An abdominal scan works to locate a potential abnormality or disease in your abdomen causing various health symptoms. An abdominal scan can diagnose your –
- Liver & Bile Ducts,
- Intestines (small and large),
- Blood Vessels in the Abdomen, and
- Abdominal Cavity.
The scan can help your doctor determine the size and shape of the organs, the blood flow to these organs, and the consistency of soft tissues. An abdominal scan, specifically an abdominal MRI, can also differentiate between an abnormal mass and the soft tissues. Doctors ask for an abdominal scan to check whether any organs have an altered function.
While an abdominal ultrasound uses sound waves to generate internal images, an abdominal MRI uses magnetic fields and computer-generated radio waves to produce the visuals. Both scans are safe and do not involve any radiation.
However, an x-ray or CT scan involves radiation. On one side, an abdominal x-ray includes electromagnetic radiation beams to create two-dimensional images of your abdominal area. And on the other, an abdominal CT scan entails multiple x-ray beams to create cross-sectional images of your abdomen from different angles.
Perhaps, it is on your doctor to decide which method to avail of! While one is more efficient during emergencies, another is significant in diagnosing complex conditions. While one is quicker and easily accessible, another holds a greater accuracy to detect diseases at their early stage. But, irrespective of the modalities, an abdominal scan is non-invasive in type, painless, and performed outpatient. In other words, an abdominal scan does not require a hospital stay.
Why Do Doctors Recommend An Abdominal Scan?
Of course, doctors prescribe an abdominal scan to detect the hidden abnormality because they aren’t sure which one is it! They may predict, but only a scan can guide them to identify the type, location, and extent of the condition. That is when they can plan an appropriate treatment for you.
Well, in this regard, the cause of your daily health issues can vary, as there are various abdominal abnormalities and diseases that show similar symptoms. So, to answer your question, what can an abdominal scan show, it’s all that follows!
- An abdominal scan can identify stones in your kidney, bladder, pancreas, bole duct, etc. It can help the doctor determine the numbers, size, and composition too!
- If you have cysts in the stomach, kidney, liver, spleen, or other abdominal organs, an abdominal scan can show them!
- This scan can detect inflammations, whether appendicitis, pancreatitis, cholecystitis, or glomerulonephritis.
- An abdominal scan can diagnose fatty liver disease, liver cirrhosis, and abnormal liver functions.
- Doctors order this scan to assess pus or fluid collection in your abdominal cavity.
- Your doctor may recommend this scan to check for tumors (benign or malignant) and their stage.
- An abdominal scan can show infections in your abdominal organs. Also, their origin!
- If you have an injury or internal bleeding in any abdominal organ, the scan can show that as well!
- An abdominal scan can diagnose obstruction and blood clots in the blood vessels carrying blood to your abdominal organs and tissues.
- It can even detect congenital defects, like a hole in the spleen, an abnormal kidney shape, etc.
- Doctors prescribe this scan to examine abdominal aortic aneurysm, i.e., bulging of the abdominal aorta due to plaque buildup.
- An abdominal scan can detect internal hernia, abdominal lumps, and swelled-up kidneys due to urine backflow.
- In fact, an abdominal scan can expose cancer growing in the tubule cells of your kidneys.
- It can diagnose narrowed abdominal veins and arteries and the presence of foreign objects, like coins, in your abdominal cavity.
- An abdominal scan can show cancerous growth in the adrenal glands too!
- It can help doctors find kidney or liver transplant rejections or relapsing colon cancer.
- An abdominal scan can detect and measure thickened bowel walls; and a myriad more!
How Accurate Are Abdominal Scans?
Now that you know what can abdominal scan show, you must be keen to know how accurate these scans are! Well, various scanning modality holds various accuracy rate for diagnosing various diseases. While a CT scan is the recognized gold-standard abdominal scan for diagnosing smaller stones, an MRI is more prominent in diagnosing cancers.
Studies show that a CT scan is 82% sensitive and 84.8% specific in diagnosing internal hernia caused by a past abdominal surgery! According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), an ultrasound holds 85 to 96% specificity in examining acute appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix).
The latest researches affirm that an MRI is the most accurate modality to diagnose liver cirrhosis, with an 88% specificity and 84% sensitivity rate. NCBI also reveals that in case of cancer growing in the epithelial tubule cells in kidneys, an MRI can rightly diagnose it with an 89.9% sensitivity and 84.4% specificity.
Likewise, an abdominal CT reserves an 82% accuracy in diagnosing bowel injuries. According to Science Direct, a CT scan holds 80 to 95% sensitivity in examining acute pancreatitis. An abdominal ultrasound, on the other note, is 65 to 90% sensitive in pancreatitis cases. However, an ultrasound is 93% sensitive and 99% specific in detecting blunt abdominal trauma.
So, the bottom line is an abdominal scan, whether a CT, MRI, or Ultrasound, can accurately articulate what internal abnormality you have! These scans can show multiple problems, if any, and help doctors initiate early treatment.
If and when you witness any uncomfortable and painless symptoms that indicate an abdominal abnormality, do not hesitate to consult a doctor. Your doctor is the one who can suggest you the best possible scan and cure you accordingly.