Health Questions and Answers

QUESTION: Are radiographs always indicated?

ANSWER:  No. Plain films of the abdomen have the highest yield when used in the evaluation of patients with suspected bowel obstruction, intussusception, ileus, free air, intraabdominal mass, renal calculi, gallbladder disease, aortic aneurysm, past history of abdominal surgery or tumor, or severe generalized abdominal pain and tenderness. Conversely, among patients with uncomplicated peptic ulcer disease or massive hematemesis, pain present for more than 1 week, strangulated abdominal wall hernias, or other obvious clinical indications-for laparotomy, plain radiographs probably add little.

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