Abdominal x-ray (summary)

Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

Abdominal radiographs can be a useful examination, but you need to think about the question you are asking before getting the test. Before the advent of computerised tomography (CT) imaging, it was a primary means of investigating gastrointestinal pathology (and often allowed indirect evaluation of other abdominal viscera). 


  • indications (acute)
    • emergent evaluation of bowel gas
      • negative study in some patients may obviate the need for CT
    • evaluation of radiopaque lines and tubes
    • evaluation of radiopaque foreign bodies
    • evaluation of postprocedural free gas
    • evaluation of bowel gas in postoperative ileus
  • contraindications
    • pregnancy is a relative contraindication
  • procedure
    • standard radiograph is performed AP (anteroposterior)
    • patient is supine
    • performed in the radiology department
      • mobile abdominal radiographs are poor quality
      • only performed mobile if the patient is very ill

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rID: 47277
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