Tutorial 10: The Abdominal Radiograph
The abdominal radiograph is rapidly acquired low-cost exam, which provides information on a large number of structures. In current practice, the abdominal radiograph is often performed as a screening test, with positive findings prompting progression to a CT scan. Alternatively repeat abdominal radiographs are often used to follow up conditions such bowel dilatation or urinary stone disease, avoiding the need for repeated CT scans. Radiograph allows distinction between five radiographic densities; gas, fat, fluid/soft tissue, bone/calcium and metal. Further differentiation between tissue subtypes is typically not possible. An overview of the normal radiographic appearance of bowel is presented, along with common and important pathologies. The radiographic appearances of the major intra-abdominal organs is described. This chapter aims to present the reader with a structured approach to interpreting an abdominal radiograph.