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Your doctor will first ask about your medical history and perform a physical examination. In addition, he or she may order the following tests:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: An X-ray that uses a computer to provide an image of the inside of the abdomen.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan: This test uses magnetic waves to create an image.
  • Ultrasound: This test uses high-frequency sound waves that echo off the body to create a picture.
  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): During an ERCP, a flexible tube is inserted down the throat and into the stomach and small intestine. By injecting dye into the drainage tube of the pancreas, your doctor can see the area more clearly.
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS): EUS involves passing a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope through the mouth or the anus to exam the lining and walls of the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract and nearby organs such as the pancreas and gall bladder. The endoscope is equipped with a small ultrasound transducer that produces sounds waves that create a viewable image of the digestive track. When combined with fine needle aspiration, EUS becomes a state-of-the-art, minimally invasive alternative to exploratory surgery to remove tissue samples from abdominal and other organs. It also may be used to determine the cause of symptoms such as abdominal pain, to evaluate a growth, to diagnose diseases of the pancreas, bile duct and gall bladder when other tests are inconclusive and to determine the extent of certain cancers of the lungs or digestive tract.
  • Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography (PTC): By injecting dye into the bile duct through a thin needle inserted into the liver, blockages can be seen on X-ray.
  • Bile Duct Biopsy and Fine Needle Aspiration: A tiny sample of the bile duct fluid or tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers


Gastroenterology at Mount Zion
1701 Divisadero St., Suite 120
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 502-4444
Fax: (415) 502-2249
Appointment information

Gastroenterology at Parnassus
350 Parnassus Ave., Suite 410
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 502-2112
Fax: (415) 514-3300
Appointment information

Gastrointestinal Motility & Secretion Center
400 Parnassus Ave., Box 0310
San Francisco, CA 94143-0310
Phone: (415) 353-9383
Fax: (415) 353-2505
Appointment information