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JLeslie's avatar

Do they measure organs on an abdominal ultrasound?

Asked by JLeslie (59506points) July 18th, 2018 from iPhone

Do they measure organs that are normal size, or only ones that are abnormal?

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12 Answers

chyna's avatar

Not trying to sound like a smart ass, but I would imagine they would have to measure to know an organ is enlarged.
I have seen medical records come across my desk with diagnosis saying “slightly enlarged liver, etc.”.
At only being slightly enlarged, it would have to be measured, IMHO.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna I was more wondering if they bother to click and take photos if it’s normal. But, maybe they need to click the parameter of the organ just to measure it to begin with, I think that’s what you’re saying. Makes sense.

She was click click clicking, and I know my doctor suspected something with my gall bladder, i had guessed something different, but her guess has merit also so I don’t think she is necessarily wrong (I don’t know if you want the long story) but anyway, after a good 2–3 minutes the tech asked, “do you still have your gall bladder?” It made me laugh.

I know there are organs besides the gall bladder to be looked at, but I just found it funny.

chyna's avatar

I found it funny too. “If this isn’t your gallbladder, we need a doctor in here fast!”

JLeslie's avatar

I just thought, if something was very wrong like lots of gall stones or something it would be really obvious where my gall bladder is, but I don’t really know that. I don’t know how they understand those scans to begin with. It just looks like a bunch of shades of grey to me.

MrGrimm888's avatar

They can measure organs. It would depend on why they were doing the ultrasound, or if something appeared anomalous.

Organs can migrate a bit, or be in slightly different places than expected… Enlarged organs are usually first appreciated on x-ray. If something looks odd, they may call for an ultrasound, or further diagnostics. But a radiograph is typically where diagnostics begin, as far as imaging goes…

JLeslie's avatar

@MrGrimm888 I know they can measure organs, my question is do they bother to record a measurement if the organ is normal size.

I’m glad I wasn’t given an X-ray first. I would have tried to do a different test instead if at all possible. X-rays tend to be cheaper and faster, and I don’t want radiation because it’s cheaper and faster if there is a reasonable alternative. Especially not CT, and especially not an abdominal CT.

Actually, everyone I know with suspected gall stones gets an ultrasound not an X-ray. I’m sure X-ray is used for other organs maybe. Or, CT and MRI as I mentioned above with some sort dye or contrast would probably give a lot of information I would guess.

I don’t think I have gall stones to really worry about. This all started because I took new medication. I think the pain I was having (it was pretty bad) was a reaction to the drug. When I looked at an anatomy map I thought it was my pancreas, but the doctor said my pain description wasn’t typical for pancreatitis, that it was more similar to gall bladder, but not quite either. By the time I had the ultrasound my pain was 95% gone, because I had stopped the meds 4 days before.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I worked in Emergency Veterinary medicine. I was in a building that also had multiple internal medicine, and surgical specialists. In that field, we only measured organs that seemed unusual. But with ultrasound, you really have to look around deliberately to find individual organs, unlike an x-ray where you see everything. There’s really nothing to be afraid of with x-rays, in a normal hospital, or medical setting.

In veterinary medicine, in SC, the techs have to be positioning the animal on the x-ray table, and are present while the rads are taken. We wear aprons, and thyroid shields, but my forearms were too big for the mittens, so I never used them. I’ve been exposed to thousands of radiographs, and I had a little clip on thingie that measured my exposure. I have also had several motorcycle accidents and other issues requiring rads. It’s nothing to worry about.

Most of us get worse exposure from radiation by having our hands in the Sun while driving…

MrGrimm888's avatar

I do hope you feel better though.

I remember years ago, I had acute pain in my abdomen. I went to the ER. Several thousand dollars of diagnostics later, I had no answers. Eventually, the pain went away, and it never returned. The body is an odd thing sometimes…

JLeslie's avatar

I’m already better. I stopped the meds. I’m not worried. I didn’t go to the ER, I went to the doctor for new meds, and I was fine with the scan to just see if anything was found, although I thought about asking to do it if the attack happened again instead of when I was feeling better. It was reasonbly ER level pain though. I couldn’t get through a zumba class, chest pain, that’s how women die, lol, dismissing those symptoms. I felt pretty sure it was digestive track related.

I’m very glad I avoid X-ray when possible. I’m not changing that idea. I had an accident where they CT’d me head to pelvis, and I’m still pissed about it. I asked them for a report of how much radiation I received and it said 20 years backround radiation plus of minus 50%. That’s some range 50%. 20–40 years in one minute delivered to my body. I’m pissed because I would have refused the abdominal CT if I had known. I was completely alert the entire time, I was fine with X-ray/CT to evaluate my spine and chest, but they did my abdomen to check for internal bleeding that was not necessary in my opinion.

A week later I was in the ER for a set back and I needed my shoulder area Xray’d and when I asked for thyroid protection (I’m already hypothyroid) the ER tech said that he has mentioned that they should have that, but they don’t. This was a very nice middle class neighborhood decent sized hospital.

Anyway, I refuse X-ray at times so that when I really need one I haven’t already been zapped a ton. I’m older now, so I worry about it a little less now, but I’m very glad I was obstinate when I was younger. I still did X-rays when truly warranted. People my age, a lot of us, had chest X-rays done when we were kids more often than necessary when X-ray delivered much more radiation. Maybe that accounts for some of the breast cancer and thyroid dysfunction in America? Who knows.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I understand your position. I would also add, that you would not have received “more” radiation than normal, in the past. Other than putting coverage over other parts of your body.
When doing radiographs, you have to determine the mass of the subject, and the appropriate amount of radiation.

If too much radiation is used in an x-ray, the image can be too dark, or completely black. Too little, and there’s not enough resolution…

JLeslie's avatar

^^So I decided to read up to check myself.

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/01/the-surprising-dangers-of-ct-sans-and-x-rays/index.htm

The article says there is leeway with how much radiation needs to be delivered, and some techs are better at estimating than others I guess.

Also, from what I understand digital X-ray has much less radiation than old fashioned film X-ray. Is that incorrect?

Moreover, I saw an interview with the lead researcher for woman’s heart disease in the foundation Barbra Streisand started and she said they are trying to develop better dx tools, and want to avoid CT since it is in the area of the breast. I’m glad to hear some medical researchers are thinking that way.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Yes. Digital x-ray involves less trial and error. With normal film. You kinda measure the patient, and add/reduce radiation in two ways. Too much, and the rad was too dark. Too little, and it was like white washed. We had to do like 6 x-rays sometimes, to get good films for like a 2 or 3 view rad. With digital, we rarely had to reshoot. Which was better for us techs, and better for the painful animal getting moved around.

My understanding is that digital uses the same radiation, but requires less attempts. So. There is less exposure for techs.
I know that in some states, animals have to be put under, and techs have to leave the room when taking rads. Not in my state… Like I said, I was in it countless times. Other than my third hand on my back, I have had zero issues…..

Oh. And on digital, you could lighten, or darken the image, zoom in, and all kinds of stuff. So a 3 view, usually took just 3 attempts.

And you can copy it on to a disk, to be taken and viewed similarly on any other computer. Cool stuff!

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