Abdominal radiology: imaging (curriculum)

This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Imaging in general surgery is vital to ensure timely and accurate diagnosis for patients. You need to know the gamut of tests that are available when to use the correct test, some important findings that commonly occur and (for some investigations) how to approach looking at the images that are produced.


  • erect CXR
    • performed to exclude perforation
  • AXR
    • first line imaging in some centres for potential obstruction
  • US abdomen
    • great for the biliary tree and renal tract
    • first line imaging investigation for deranged renal or liver function
    • ideally the patient to be fasted for 4 hours
  • US renal
    • assessment of the renal tract (kidneys and bladder) only
    • requires the patient to have a full bladder
  • CT abdomen
    • high-dose examination
    • usually performed with IV contrast
    • high sensitivity for perforation and obstruction
    • find the cause of obstruction
    • excellent for assessment of intra-abdominal infection/inflammation
    • mass detection and characterisation
Medical student radiology curriculum
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rID: 49843
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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: normal AXR
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    Case 2: normal US abdomen
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    Case 3: normal CT abdomen
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