What are the advantages and disadvantages of ultrasound for evaluation of biliary colic and acute cholecystitis?

Updated: Jan 18, 2017
  • Author: Peter A D Steel, MBBS, MA; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Advantages of ultrasonography include imaging of other structures (eg, aorta, pancreas, liver), identification of complications (eg, perforation, empyema, abscess), ability to be rapidly performed at the bedside and in the emergency department, and absence of radiation (important in pregnancy). (see)

Disadvantages of ultrasonography include the fact this imaging modality is operator and patient dependent, it is unable to image the cystic duct, and it has a decreased sensitivity for common bile duct stones. In addition, in the setting of concomittant acute pancreatitis, ultrasonographic findings alone are not adequate to accurately identify acute cholecystitis. [17]

See Bedside Ultrasonography, Gallbladder Disease.

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