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Abdominal X-Ray

Results

An abdominal X-ray takes a picture of structures and organs camera.gif in the belly (abdomen). This includes the stomach, liver, spleen, large and small intestines, and the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates the chest and belly areas. In an emergency, the results of an abdominal X-ray are ready in a few minutes. Otherwise, a radiologist usually has the official X-ray report ready the next day.

Abdominal X-ray

Normal:

The pictures made by the X-rays show that the stomach, small and large bowel, liver, spleen, kidneys, and bladder are normal in size, shape, and location.

No growths, abnormal amounts of fluid (ascites), or foreign objects are seen. Normal amounts of air and fluid are seen in the intestines. Normal amounts of stool are seen in the large intestine.

Abnormal:

A blocked intestine camera.gif may be seen because a portion of the intestine is larger than usual or areas in the intestine have abnormal amounts of air or fluid in them.

A collection of air inside the belly cavity but outside the intestines (caused by a hole in the stomach or intestines) may be seen.

The walls of the intestines may look abnormal or thick.

The size, shape, or location of the bladder or kidneys may be abnormal. Kidney stones may be seen in the kidney, ureters, bladder, or urethra.

In some cases, gallstones can be seen on an abdominal X-ray.

Abnormal growths, such as large tumors, or ascites may be seen.

A foreign object is seen or a medical device looks abnormal or out of position.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Being pregnant. If a view of a pregnant woman's belly is needed, an ultrasound test may be done instead.
  • Not being able to lie still and hold your breath during the test.

What To Think About

Other Works Consulted

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 24, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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