Chronic or acute abdominal pain, loss of appetite or a change in bowel habits may signal the need for abdominal or intestinal imaging. Many factors may contribute to these symptoms including things like stress and diet. Often, there is no significant problem but your physician will want to rule out serious concerns like cancer. Knowing what is not contributing to your symptoms is sometimes just as important in helping to determine your treatment plan.
Abdominal and intestinal imaging, also called Body Imaging, utilizes different technologies depending on your symptoms and your physician’s suspicions regarding the origin of your discomfort. Most often technologies include x-ray, ultrasound, CT or a combination.
Acute pain is often evaluated first with ultrasound. It provides a good overview of upper abdominal structures and may help determine if additional tests are required. The radiologist will look for gallstones, inflamed appendix and, in women, will assess if pain is related to gynecologic issues.
CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis provide an excellent way to evaluate organs and vasculature and are commonly used in assessing both acute and chronic abdominal pain. CT provides a cross sectional view of anatomical structures allowing the radiologist to visualize small, often hidden abnormalities. In addition, the ability of CT to scan quickly through the trunk of the body, makes it an important technology in cancer diagnosis, as well as chronic inflammatory conditions like Crohns disease.
X-ray studies that utilize Barium are used when function is an important key to diagnosis.
This radio-opaque substance allows the radiologist to watch how something flows through the digestive tract. It is ideal for diagnosing blockages, ulcers and diverticulitis.