Abdominal (lateral view)

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 23 Mar 2023

The lateral view abdominal radiograph is a less common projection of the abdomen, it is different from the lateral decubitus view of the abdomen and looks more like a lateral lumbar spine view.

This projection is often requested as a useful problem-solving view that can complement frontal views of the abdomen, often utilized in the context of foreign bodies, to visualize soft tissue masses, umbilical hernia, or prevertebral pathology such as aortic aneurysm or calcifications 2.

This view also better visualize lines such as a shunt (or a part of a dedicated shunt series).

  • the patient may be either erect or recumbent, with her or his side against the detector

  • legs may be flexed for balance 2

  • arms raised 2

  • lower bound of the field of view should contain the inferior pubic ramus

  • the x-ray is taken in full expiration 2

  • supine lateral projection

  •  centering point

    • the midcoronal plane at the level of the iliac crest

  • collimation

    • anterior-posterior to the skin margins 

    • superior to the diaphragm

    • inferior to the level inferior pubic rami

  • orientation

    • portrait

  • detector size

    • 35 cm x 43 cm 2

  • exposure

    • 70-80 kVp

    • 30-120 mAs; AEC should be used if available

  • SID

    • 100 cm 2

  • grid

    • yes

  • the projection can be confirmed lateral via the lateral appearance of the vertebral bodies

  • skin border is not burnt out (a filter may be required to address this) 

  • no blurring of the bowel gas due to respiratory motion 

  • the lateral abdomen can be useful to visualize rectal gas and differentiate colonic ileus from a distal colonic obstruction however it does not offer much information about bowel gas from the frontal view 

  • this projection can be done erect or supine, often used to localize foreign bodies or as part of a shunt series when there is a high degree of winding of the line

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