Radiographs can help diagnose the underlying cause of illness in many cases. The most common reason people think of using radiographs (x-rays) for is to determine if a bone is broken, however radiographs are also helpful for determining an enlargement of abdominal organs, the presence of gas or fluid in the abdomen or the presence of a foreign object. In addition they can provide a great deal of information about the heart and lungs as well as the entire respiratory system. Sedation may be required to facilitate proper positioning.
Ultrasound evaluation of the abdomen involves examination of all abdominal organs regardless of the suspected disease entity. The liver is examined for size and presence of irregularities, or abnormal granularity. The blood vessels in the liver are evaluated for degree of congestion, which may indicate heart dysfunction or poor circulation. The gall bladder and bile ducts are evaluated for size, and the presence of thickness or inflammation. The spleen is evaluated for size, shape and texture, as well as vessel size. The pancreas is then evaluated for edema or swelling, which may indicate inflammation. Both kidneys and adrenal glands are evaluated for size, shape and the presence of stones. The urinary bladder is evaluated for the presence of stones, and the reproductive organs, if present, are evaluated for cysts or tumors. The digestive tract is evaluated for thickness, fluid or foreign objects.