Ultrasound uses sound waves to generate an image for assessment, diagnosis and monitoring of various body parts. It is the same procedure that is used in pregnant women. It is safe, non-invasive and completely painless.
What happens during an ultrasound scan?
You may be asked to fast (not eat) for up to six hours ahead of your ultrasound scan, and stop drinking water a few hours before.
You will be asked to lie down and to pull back your clothing to reveal your abdomen. Gel will be applied to your skin to allow the scanner’s probe to glide over your skin and help the sound waves to be transmitted into the body. The probe transmits images on to a screen, which you will be able to see. You won’t feel anything apart from coldness of the gel and possibly a small amount of pressure. You may be asked to change positions during the scan and to hold your breath for short intervals to allow the scanner to be positioned correctly and so the correct images can be taken.
The ultrasound scan is used to look at the shape and size of liver, gallbladder and spleen, and for any abnormalities which may require further investigation. Inflammation in the bile ducts can occasionally be seen although this is not the purpose of the ultrasound scan in PSC.
Ultrasound scans normally take about 20 minutes.
New, more advanced ultrasound scans are now being developed and available in some hospitals:
- Shear Wave Elastography - a special, advanced kind of ultrasound that can measure liver (and also spleen) stiffness.
- 2D-Shear Wave Elastography - gives a more detailed assessment over a larger areas of the liver.