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 including: •
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 alcohol. 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 Direct. 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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15802102 ii http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Kidney-stones/Pages/Introduction.aspx iii http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Pancreatitis-chronic/Pages/Introduction.aspx
iv https://www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/liver-information/liver-conditions/cirrhosis/ vwww.nhs.uk/Conditions/Prostate-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx