Assessment of the acute abdomen: role of the plain abdominal radiograph
Frances A Hampson, Ashley S Shaw
Department of Radiology, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK
Abstract: ‘The acute abdomen’ is one of the most frequent reasons for presentation to the emergency department. There are a multitude of potential causes. Imaging plays a vital role in making an accurate and timely diagnosis, which in turn reduces morbidity and mortality. Plain abdominal radiography has traditionally been considered a fundamental part of the initial assessment of acute abdominal pain. However, with the increasing availability of computed tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging, the role of the plain abdominal radiograph has been increasingly questioned and its use is dwindling. During the course of this review, we will describe the current guidelines for the use of the plain abdominal radiograph and assess its potential diagnostic yield. We will also discuss its current applications in the context of the acute abdomen both in general and in a number of frequently encountered conditions and illustrate when other imaging modalities would be better employed.
Keywords: acute abdomen, abdominal radiograph
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