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May 31, 1976

Ultrasonic Evaluation of Intraperitoneal Fluid

Author Affiliations

From the Temple University Health Sciences Center, and Section of Diagnostic Ultrasound, Episcopal Hospital, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1976;235(22):2427-2430. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260480045037

ULTRASOUND is rapidly replacing other methods in the evaluation of intraperitoneal fluid collections. The established ability of ultrasound to readily detect fluid and differentiate it from solid makes it an ideal diagnostic examination. Since it is a noninvasive procedure, ultrasound can be used not only in the initial diagnosis but also for serial examinations once the presence of free or loculated fluid has been detected.1,2 The sensitivity of ultrasound in the detection of fluid has been established experimentally: as little as 100 ml of ascitic fluid in cadavers and 300 ml in vivo has been detected.3,4 This degree of resolution compares favorably to all other methods, including percussion, roentgenographic procedures, and isotope dilution examination.4

Ultrasound can differentiate between free and loculated fluid. This is accomplished by simply moving the patient without changing the transducer position. Shifting of the fluid indicates that it is free. Differentiation of loculated