Sonographic evaluation of the retroperitoneum

M. Koenigsberg, J. C. Hoffman, M. J. Schnur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The retroperitoneum has become accessible to noninvasive exploration since the advent of ultrasound and computed tomography. Although ultrasound lacks the resolution of modern CT scanners in visualizing the fascial planes of the retroperitoneum, an awareness of the compartmental anatomy is helpful in determining the region of pathology and the possible source of disease. The anterior pararenal space includes many structures usually visualized on abdominal sonographs. The kidneys, adrenals, and the great vessels and their surrounding nodes are related to the perirenal space. The thin posterior pararenal space is devoid of significant organs and is appreciated only when it is widened by disease. Pathology of the posterior abdominal-wall musculature is usually contained in the retrofascial spaces. The caudal extensions of the retroperitoneal musculature and vasculature are visualized on pelvic sonography, as are genitourinary structures. Since it is usually difficult to relate retroperitoneal disease clinically to a specific site, for optimal assessment, the entire retroperitoneum should be surveyed sonographically, including its anterior extensions. Multiple scanning planes in a variety of projections, with and without fluid in the viscera, are usually necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-96
Number of pages18
JournalSeminars in Ultrasound
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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