August 1975

Accuracy of Ultrasound in Diagnosing Abdominal Masses

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Denver General Hospital and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver.

Arch Surg. 1975;110(8):933-939. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1975.01360140077016

B-mode ultrasonography was performed in 246 patients with suspected abdominal masses over a seven-year period. In 105 (43%), the accuracy of ultrasonic diagnosis was evaluated surgically. Sonography was proven correct in 60 (57%) patients who had undergone operation. Among 141 patients who had not undergone operation and whose diagnoses were established by other means, ultrasonography agreed with the clinical diagnosis in 69 (31%).

Ultrasound accuracy, as confirmed by operation, was highest for splenic masses (100%) and for aortic aneurysm (88%). Liver masses were correctly identified in 56% of patients and gallbladder lesions in 38%. While only a 48% accuracy was obtained in diagnosing pancreatic disease, 64% of all pseudocysts were localized. Ultrasonography correlated positively with operative findings in 56% of renal masses. Intraperitoneal abscess was accurately diagnosed in 61% of patients but retroperitoneal adenopathy in only 33%.

Abdominal ultrasonography, while accurately diagnosing splenic and aortic masses, failed to identify approximately half of other mass lesions. Improved techniques hold promise of improving this diagnostic accuracy.