What are the limitations of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of peritonitis and abdominal sepsis?

Updated: Jul 23, 2019
  • Author: Brian J Daley, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, CNSC; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Ultrasonography may detect increased amounts of peritoneal fluid (ascites), but its ability to detect quantities of less than 100 mL is limited. The central (perimesenteric) peritoneal cavity is not visualized well with transabdominal ultrasonography. Examination from the flank or back may improve the diagnostic yield, and providing the ultrasonographer with specific information about the patient's condition and the suspected diagnosis before the examination is important. With an experienced ultrasonographer, a diagnostic accuracy of greater than 85% has been reported in several series.

Ultrasonographically guided aspiration and placement of drains has evolved into a valuable tool in the diagnosis and treatment of abdominal fluid collections.

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