What to Expect From an Ultrasound Scan in Thailand
In March 2015, a general practitioner in Udonthani, Thailand, suggested that I have a full abdominal ultrasound scan as a routine examination. This was the first ultrasound scan I had ever had, and its image results revealed that I had a big mass on my left kidney. After consultation with a urologist, my left kidney was removed, and the mass was found to be malignant.
It was surprising to know that I had a mass on my kidney because I had shown no symptoms of cancer such as pain or blood in my urine. Without the results of the scan, I would have never known that I had a malignant tumor on my left kidney.
In this article, I begin by defining what an ultrasound scan is. I then show how the scan images are used by radiologists and doctors in evaluating pregnancy and the diagnosis of problems in the body. I will also share the kind of diagnostic results that a full abdominal scan will reveal.
What Is an Ultrasound Scan?
An ultrasound scan also known as a sonography is a medical test which uses high-frequency sound waves to capture live images from within your body. The sound waves are passed through a hand-held transducer/probe which is placed at different parts on your body. Live images are then displayed on a computer next to the patient being examined.
How Are Ultrasound Images Used?
Ultrasound images allow radiologists and doctors to see problems with organs, vessels, and tissues within the body without an incision. These images also allow obstetricians to view fetuses during pregnancy. The scans also capture images of your blood vessels and such organs in the body as the bladder, gallbladder, liver, kidney, pancreas, spleen, and uterus.
Preparing for an Ultrasound Scan
I have had whole abdomen ultrasound scans semiannually ever since my malignant left kidney was removed in 2015. In preparing for these scans, I have been instructed to take no food and drink except water for six to eight hours prior to the test. Taking my blood pressure medicine, however, has been allowed. For my lower abdomen ultrasound examinations, a full bladder has been required. For this reason, after arriving at least 15 minutes before the scheduled ultrasound scan, I have drunk lots of water to make sure my bladder is full.
Before undergoing an ultrasound scan, some hospitals require that patients change into a hospital gown. At Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok where I have had most of my ultrasounds, it hasn't been necessary to put on a hospital gown.
The Ultrasound Scan Procedure
My ultrasound procedures have been painless and have usually lasted no more than 30 minutes each time. After being greeted by a radiologic technologist, I was told to lie down on an examination cot in a darkened room with a computer on the right side of the cot. Before the scan begins, I was then instructed to raise up my shirt exposing my abdomen, unbuckle my pants, and lift both arms up with hands joined in the back of my head.
The technologist next rubbed a gel over my abdomen before taking a transducer/probe which was hooked up to a sound generator and a computer. While the technologist held the probe touching different areas of my abdomen, I was instructed to take a deep breath and hold it for five to ten seconds several times during the test.
When examining the kidneys, I had to lie on both my left and right sides. While the live images from within my body were displayed on a monitor, the technologist snapped a number of pictures.
After the radiologic technologist finished examining my whole abdomen, a radiologist came into the room and briefly examined the image scans taken by the technologist. Next, the radiologist reexamined my whole abdomen but not in the detail which the technologist did. I still, however, had to take deep breaths and hold them several times during this examination.
Following all of the procedures, a radiologist reviewed all of the images taken and wrote a findings report. During my last visit, it took less than one hour to generate a findings report.
General Ultrasound - Abdominal
Ultrassound Scan during Pregnancy
My Ultrasound Scan Image Findings
The following are the findings from an ultrasound scan of my whole abdomen on September 22, 2018. They are compared to my ultrasound scan findings from October 7, 2017.
My liver was found to be of normal size and shape with unchanged parenchymal echogenicity (fatty liver.) There was no space taking lesion.
There was no dilatation (widening) of intrahepatic bile ducts and a normal size CBD (common bile duct.)
My gallbladder was found to be of normal size, shape, and wall thickness. There was no evidence of gallstones or mass.
The pancreas displayed normal size, shape, and echoes of the visualized portion. There was no dilatation of the main pancreatic duct and no visualized pancreatic tail due to bowel gas.
Images showed normal size, shape, and parenchymal echoes. There was no stone, solid mass, or hydronephrosis (retention of water.) The right renal size was notated. Findings showed some right renal cysts that were very small. It showed that my left kidney was already removed and that there was no mass at the left renal fossa (where the kidney originally was located.)
The spleen was of normal size and parenchymal echoes.
My aorta was of normal caliber.
It showed a small diffuse thickened wall with no demonstrable stone or mass.
The size was given in grams.
No mass or free fluid noted.
Impression (Significant Findings)
- Unchanged fatty liver
- No significant change in the size of right renal cysts
- Left kidney missing
- Diffusely thickened wall of the urinary bladder
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Post-voiding residual urine volume present
Total Cost of My Whole Abdomen Ultrasound Scan
My latest whole abdomen ultrasound scan was conducted at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok. The total cost for the procedure and the radiologic technologist and radiologist's services was 7,330 Thai Baht (about $229.) The ultrasound procedure cost was 5,250 Thai baht ($164) and the technologist and radiologist's services amounted to 2,080 Thai baht ($65.)
Most people know that ultrasound scans are very important in managing the prenatal care of expectant mothers. They, however, are also necessary for diagnosing any problems that elderly patients might have. Not knowing that I had any symptoms of kidney cancer, the scan most probably saved my life.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Paul Richard Kuehn