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Plain abdominal X-rays and acute abdominal pain

Disclaimer: this record is a non mandatory recommendation to help in health care decision making process. After reading it, patients are encouraged to review the information carefully with their physicians. Never disregard professional medical advice.


  • Acute abdominal pain is one of the most common reasons for consulting emergency hospital services and one that requires timely and accurate assessment.
  • Plain abdominal X-rays in cases of acute abdominal pain should not be the routine procedure, since it fails to provide relevant information for patient management.
  • The effective dose of ionizing radiation from a plain abdominal X-ray is 35 times that of a chest X-ray.

In cases of acute abdominal pain, plain abdominal X-rays do not provide added value in patient management unless there is a suspicion of intestinal obstruction, perforation of hollow viscus, renal colic due to lithiasis, undetected by X-ray or due to the presence of other foreign bodies.

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Update:  11.02.2015