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Med Ultrason. 2010 Mar;12(1):62-5.

Ultrasound examination of the normal pancreas.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Timi┼čoara, Romania.


The pancreas is a challenge for the beginner in ultrasonography, but patience, perseverance and experience will lead to a complete and correct evaluation of the organ in almost all cases. A correct examination of the pancreas requires the patient's fasting 7 to 8 hours before the examination. Transverse and longitudinal upper epigastric sections are used to visualize the pancreas, as well as oblique intercostal and subcostal sections (especially for the head and tail). The best ultrasound windows are obtained by using high epigastric sections (that avoid the colon), also by using transgastric sections and sections that use the left liver lobe as an acoustic window. In order to better visualize the pancreas, it is useful to invite the patient to drink 500-700 ml of still water 10-15 minutes before the examination. To highlight the pancreas, we will start by viewing the landmarks: posterior--the porto-splenic axis and anterior--the gastric antrum and/or the left liver lobe. The echogeneity of the normal pancreas can vary, from hypoechoic to hyperechoic, all normal, provided that the pancreatic parenchyma structure is fine and homogeneous. The Wirsung duct can be visualized in some of the cases, especially in thin patients, its normal maximum diameter should be < 2 mm. For a correct evaluation of the pancreas all its segments must be visualized: head, uncinate process, body, and tail - the latter being the most difficult to visualize.

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