Ultrasounds of the liver and surrounding organs diagnose the cause of pain in the abdomen. They look for causes of infections and abnormal liver function tests, damage after an injury, and tumors and cancers. The exact reason to have a liver ultrasound depends on the patient's symptoms, notes MedlinePlus.
Ultrasound machines create images of structures and organs inside the body. The machine distributes sound waves at high frequency that bounce off structures, and the computer uses the waves to make a picture. An ultrasound is different from a CT scan or X-ray because it does not involve any exposure to radiation. The patient lies down while the technician applies a clear gel to the skin over the abdomen to facilitate transmission of sound waves. The transducer is the handheld probe the technician moves all over the abdomen. The patient may have to hold his breath during some of the test, depending on its extent, as stated by MedlinePlus.
In most cases, patients must fast for several hours ahead of the ultrasound, but it is important to follow all of the preparation instructions. When the results are abnormal, that indicates that the liver has developed some issues that require further attention, according to MedlinePlus.