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Abdominal X-Ray

How It Feels

You will feel no discomfort from the X-rays. The X-ray table may feel hard and the room may be cool. You may find that the positions you need to hold are uncomfortable or painful, especially if you have an injury.


There is always a slight chance of damage to cells or tissue from radiation, including the low levels of radiation used for this test. But the chance of damage from the X-rays is usually very low compared with the potential benefits of the test.

For example, the radiation exposure from a chest X-ray is about equal to the natural radiation exposure received during a round-trip airline flight from Boston to Los Angeles (Montreal to Vancouver) or 10 days in the Rocky Mountains (Denver, Colorado).


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


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.


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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
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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