Ultrasound in the investigation of the pancreas and the biliary tree

Author(s): Dr Tim Hoare, Dr Andy McNeill

Hospital: Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Reference: RAD Magazine, 41, 477, 25-25


Ultrasound (US) is a central imaging tool in the investigation of pancreaticobiliary problems. This article explores common clinical scenarios and the role US plays in patient care. In particular, we will consider how the strengths and weaknesses of US impact on its place in the pathway.

US is capable of detailing anatomy and pathology in excellent spatial resolution. Its intrinsic high contrast resolution between fluid and solid is a key advantage in examining the pancreaticobililary system. It is patient centred, with a human face on the end of the scan. This allows the operator to both scan and correlate with patient symptoms to increase diagnostic confidence. There is no risk from radiation and access is not limited by allergy, renal impairment or exposure to magnetic fields. However, while it can analyse a specific target in detail and in real time, its limited field of view can cause problems when there are multiple and complex abnormalities.

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