Abdominal film

What is an abdominal film?

An abdominal film can also be called an abdominal X-ray. Possible problems in the region of the abdomen (i.e. stomach, intestines and the cavity of the abdomen) can be detected and further investigated using this medical procedure.   Obstruction in the gallbladder, ureter or the kidney can be seen from an X-ray of the abdomen.

There is what is called Kidney-Ureter-Bladder (KUB) X-ray. Here, the focus of examination is not the entire abdominal area but on the bladder, kidneys, and ureter. The name KUB X-ray is actually a coinage from the initial letters of the organs of interest. K is the first letter of the word kidney.  U is the first letter of ureter and B is the first letter for the bladder.


Why are abdominal films ordered for?

An abdominal X-ray might be called for when abdominal pains, abdominal swelling, vomiting, chronic nausea, back pain are experienced by you.

You might also be required to undergo an abdominal X-ray when any of this diseases present;  abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), atheroembolic renal disease, Addison’s disease, adenomyosis, Cholangitis, anemia (idiopathic aplastic or secondary aplastic), pancreatitis, blind loop syndrome, biliary atresia, appendicitis, ascariasis, cholecystitis, kidney dysfunctioning due to its failure or an injury, chronic renal failure, cirrhosis, Hirschsprung’s disease, Echinococcus infection, necrotizing enterocolitis, a ureter injury, renal artery stenosis, peritonitis, intestinal pseudo-obstruction (primary or idiopathic), renal cell carcinoma, toxic megacolon, intussusception (in children), Wilms’ tumor, nephrocalcinosis etc,

Swallowed objects can be seen in the abdomen via this procedure.

An abdominal X-ray can also be used to correctly push a catheter into a desired destination within the abdomen. Catheters are used to drain gases or fluids out of the body.


Abdominal film

Photo Credit: Radiopaedia


Before going for an abdominal film

You will be rightly guided by your doctor should there be a need for you to undergo an abdominal film. You might have to fast prior to the time of the examination or even have to switch diet for that time being. Let your doctor know if you are pregnant. Radiations even to the minute amount are not healthy for a pregnant woman. An alternative procedure such as an ultrasound might be resorted to.

Also, inform your doctor if you’ve recently taken an X-ray involving the use of a barium contrast or are on any medication especially medication containing bismuth (i.e. Pepto-Bismol). Bismuth has the ability to blur the images. Barium contrast is a kind of dye used for medical examination.

Inform your doctor if you’ve recently had an X-ray test involving barium contrast material. Similar to the bismuth in Pepto-Bismol, barium can prevent a clear picture in your abdominal film.


Abdominal film procedure

When you visit the hospital for an abdominal X-ray, it will be required that you strip yourself of any item on you that might interfere with the procedure. That will include your jewelry.  You might have to wear a hospital gown, too.

You will be required to lie on a supine position, stand or lie on your side as the case may be. It all depends on what the doctor is interested in viewing and plus, an X-ray can be taken from different angles. Be prepared to follow every instruction you are given while the procedure is ongoing. For instance, the doctor can instruct you to pause breathing, remain still or even raise your hand etc. Just obey!


Interpretation of results

While an abdominal film can identify various abnormalities in the abdominal region, it is not in itself conclusive. This means that it has to be further investigated.

An abdominal x-ray will reveal if there is any of the following; injury, strange object, stones in the kidney, bladder or ureter, a mass, build of fluid, organ enlargement etc.


Risks of an abdominal film

An abdominal X-ray is a low-risk medical procedure where you definitely have some exposure to radiations in their small amounts. Feelings of pains or discomfort can result from the procedure but it is just for the time being. There are no serious risks involved except for the exposure to small amounts of radiations.


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