The reason for an abdominal scan is to help identify any problems that may be happening in major organs such as the stomach, spleen, liver, small and large intestines, and pancreas.

An abdominal scan can also be used to monitor an unborn baby, diagnose a condition or guide a surgeon through certain procedures.

You will be asked to lie comfortably on your back and afterwards, you should be able to go about your daily business, there is no recovery time and the procedure is painless.

An abdominal scan should not cause you any pain or discomfort, you will only have a small amount of gel applied to the outer stomach and a probe will glide over it.

An abdominal scan uses sound waves that create images of your organs and shows blood flow in the abdomen. Abdominal scans can show stomach cancer and can show if the fluid is in your abdomen.

A doctor may advise you to go for an abdominal scan or you may want to go for a private abdominal scan if you require faster results than waiting for an abdominal scan on the NHS.

Most results from an abdominal scan will be sent straight to your doctor if carried out through the NHS and you will probably have a follow-up appointment scheduled. If you do decide to go private, you will usually get instant results.

If cancer shows up on the abdominal scan, it will usually show up on the ultrasound as a dark, black image. But it doesn’t automatically mean it is cancer, it can be a variety of other things such as fluid, cysts or a tumour.

In an abdominal scan, you will usually need a full bladder so will be advised to drink water beforehand; a full bladder serves as a window allowing it to see your organs.

When attending an abdominal scan you should wear loose clothing that is easy to remove as you may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure. Preparations can vary depending on which abdominal scan you may be having.


An abdominal scan will usually take no more than 30 minutes (again depending on what scan you are having this could differ) some examinations may take longer especially if you are having any blood vessel-related scans this is due to the detailed imaging that is required and the number of the organs being examined.

lady holding tummy

Lady holding tummy