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If you\'ve been suffering from upper abdominal or pelvic symptoms - pain, swelling, or any other types of discomfort, your doctor may recommend an ultrasound examination.

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What a men's upper abdominal and

pelvic scan can tell you

If you've been suffering from upper abdominal or pelvic symptoms - pain, swelling, or any other

types of discomfort, your doctor may recommend an ultrasound examination.

Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to capture live images of the organs inside your

body to check for any structural abnormalities or other problems. It's painless and non invasive

and gives sonographers a window into what is happening to your major organs, including the

gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas, liver, kidneys, bladder and prostate gland.

A men's upper abdominal and pelvic scan is available privately from Ultrasound Direct and may

help you get a diagnosis for symptoms that have been troubling you. It involves fasting for eight

hours beforehand and drinking 0.5 litres (I pint) of clear fluid one hour before the test.

Gallbladder problems

Gallbladder issues are just one of the medical conditions that can be diagnosed via upper

abdominal ultrasound.

Gallstones are solid lumps that form from bile, which is made in the liver to digest fat

and stored in the gallbladder. Gallstones are now estimated to affect 10 to 15 per cent of

the population.i Gallstones only cause problems if they move from the gallbladder into

the bile ducts (tubes that lead from the gall bladder and the intestine). If they become

lodged in the duct this can cause inflammation (known as cholecystitis) and pain called

biliary colic - which can be excruciating.

Gall bladder polyps: These can cause similar symptoms to gallstones, but the worry is

that they could later turn into gallbladder cancer.

Gall bladder cancer: Cancer of the gallbladder is rare but more common in people who

have gallstones or gallbladder polyps. Symptoms include: feeling sick, pain in the upper

right abdominal area and yellow skin and whites of the eyes.

Problems with the kidneys

Your kidneys are important organs as they remove waste from the bloodstream, as well as

excess water and they also help to regulate blood pressure. Ultrasound can help identify various

kidney problems including:

Kidney stones: These are crystals that form in the kidneys, most are passed out in urine,

but larger kidney stones can get stuck in the kidneys or block the tubes running from the

kidneys to the bladder. This can cause intense pain in the back, side, or groin (known as

renal colic). Three in 20 men and 2 in 20 women will develop them at some point.ii

Kidney cancer: This is now the eighth most common cancer in adults. Symptoms may

include a lump or swelling in the kidney area, constant pain below the ribs and blood in

the urine. However 50 per cent of cases have no symptoms.

Pancreatic problems

The pancreas controls important enzymes and hormones needed for digestion, including insulin

to regulate blood sugar. An ultrasound scan can reveal various problems with the pancreas


Acute pancreatitis: This is a short term but serious inflammation of the pancreas.

The symptoms include severe, sudden pain in the middle of the abdomen,

nausea and vomiting and diarrhoea. It's often linked to gallstones and drinking


Chronic pancreatitis: The pancreas becomes permanently inflamed and causes

repeated attacks of stomach pains. It's most common in middle-aged men aged

45 to 54.iii Excessive alcohol intake is the cause in 70 per cent of cases.

Pancreatic cancer: Ultrasound is one of many tests that are used to diagnose

pancreatic cancer. Others include blood tests and CT scans. Symptoms are

typically vague and include unexplained weight loss, tummy pain and loss of

appetite, jaundice, nausea and recently diagnosed diabetes.

Liver disease

Your liver is the biggest solid organ in the body and has many important functions including

converting food to energy, storing iron and mobilising macrophage cells (large white blood

cells which ingest foreign bodies and fight off infections).

An ultrasound scan can detect scarring and other abnormalities of the liver including:

Cirrhosis: Long-term damage to the liver results in scarring and fibrosis. There are

many causes including alcohol abuse and hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). Early

symptoms include weight loss, feeling sick and tenderness/pain in the liver area. Later

symptoms include intense itching of the skin, swelling of the abdomen and dark urine.

Around 4,000 people a year die of cirrhosis in the UK.ivUltrasound is one of the tests that

can help diagnose cirrhosis, others include CT scans and MRI scans.

Prostate disorders

Your prostate gland is a small walnut-shaped gland, which surrounds the urethra (the tube that

carries urine out of the body). Ultrasound is one of the tests used to assess the health of your

prostate. Problems, which affect the prostate, include:

Enlargement of the prostate: A third of men over 50 have an enlarged prostate gland;

symptoms include urinary frequency, needing to pass urine at night and difficulties

stopping and starting urinating.

Prostatitis: This is where the prostate becomes swollen and inflamed and is sometimes

caused by a bacterial infection.

Prostate cancer: This is the most common type of cancer in men and 40,000 new cases

are diagnosed every year.v Symptoms are similar to benign prostate enlargement.

For more information on men's upper and abdominal and pelvic scans contact Ultrasound


i Shaffer EA. Epidemiology and risk factors for gallstone disease: has the paradigm changed in the 21st

century? Curr Gastroenterol Rep 2005; 7(2): 132-140