What is a gallbladder ultrasound?

An ultrasound allows doctors to view images of the organs and soft tissues inside your body. Using sound waves, an ultrasound provides a real-time picture of your organs.

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This better allows medical professionals to diagnose conditions and determine the underlying causes of problems you may be experiencing.

While ultrasounds are most commonly associated with pregnancy, the test is also used for other purposes, including providing pictures of your abdominal area.

A gallbladder ultrasound is a noninvasive and typically painless examination used to diagnose conditions related to the gallbladder. Unlike X-ray, ultrasound does not use radiation.

Why is a gallbladder ultrasound performed? 

The gallbladder is located under the liver on the right side of the abdomen. This pear-shaped organ stores bile, which is a digestive enzyme the liver creates and uses to break down fat.

Gallbladder ultrasounds are used to diagnose a number of conditions. Your doctor may prescribe the procedure to test for gallstones, which are hardened deposits in bile that can cause nausea and abdominal pain along with back and shoulder pain.

Another condition potentially requiring a gallbladder ultrasound is cholecystitis, where the gallbladder becomes inflamed or infected. This often results from gallstones obstructing a tube that moves bile from the gallbladder.

Other conditions a gallbladder ultrasound is conducted for include:

  • gallbladder cancer
  • gallbladder empyema
  • gallbladder polyps
  • porcelain gallbladder
  • gallbladder perforation
  • upper right abdominal pain of unknown reason

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