Drug pellets (body packing)

Case contributed by Sovann Vathana Lay


A traveler arrested at the airport for carrying a powder substance, which later tested negative for drug. Referred to CT for further investigation.

Patient Data

Age: Adult
Gender: Male

X-ray (From CT scout images)


Frontal and lateral scout images show multiple oval opacities throughout the abdomen.

Non contrast-enhanced CT of the whole abdomen was done


Unenhanced CT of the abdomen was performed (without oral contrast).

There are multiple intraluminal smooth, well-circumscribed, highly-attenuated (259 HU) oval foreign bodies, uniform in size, scattered throughout loops of large bowel.

Surprisingly, the subject had quite a long sigmoid loop extending toward the right flank and a distended loop of transverse colon.

Drug pellets were the most likely diagnosis.


The subject was ordered to take laxative and the drug was proven to be cocaine.

Case Discussion

Body packing is one of the many methods employed by drug traffickers to smuggle illegal drugs through customs. Radiography or CT are used in many countries to screen suspected individuals. 

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