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Alternative namesAbdominal X-ray; X-ray - abdomen; Flat plate; KUB
DefinitionAbdominal films are X-ray images of the abdomen. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation (like light). They are of higher energy, however, and can penetrate the body to form an image on film. Structures that are dense (such as bone) will appear white, air will be black, and other structures will be shades of gray.
How the test is performedThe test is performed in a hospital radiology department or in the health care provider's office by an X-ray technologist. You lie on your back on the X-ray table. The X-ray machine is positioned over your abdominal area. You hold your breath as the picture is taken so that the picture will not be blurry. You may be asked to change position to the side or to stand up for additional pictures.
How to prepare for the testInform the health care provider if you are pregnant, have an IUD inserted, or have had a barium contrast media X-ray in the last 4 days.
If you have taken any medications such as Pepto Bismol (which contains bismuth) within 4 days mention it to the health care provider, because they may interfere with the test.
You wear a hospital gown during the X-ray procedure. You must remove all jewelry. You must sign an informed consent form.
For infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this procedure depends on your child's age and previous experiences. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:
How the test will feelThere is no discomfort. The films are taken with you lying on your back, side, and standing.
Why the test is performedThe abdominal X-ray can help identify suspected problems in the urinary system such as a kidney stone , or a blockage or perforation (hole) in the intestine. The X-ray can locate an object that has been swallowed. The X-ray may also help in diagnosing a pain in the abdomen or unexplained nausea .
Normal ValuesThe X-ray will show normal structures for a person your age.
What abnormal results meanAbnormal findings include:
What the risks are
There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the benefits.
Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of the X-ray. Women should make the health care provider aware of suspected pregnancy.
Special considerationsThe test is not usually recommended for pregnant women. The ovaries and uterus cannot be shielded during the abdominal X-ray because of their location. Men should have a lead shield placed over the testes to protect against the radiation.
Update Date: 8/18/2003David Webner, M.D., Sports Medicine Fellow, Crozer-Keystone Family Practice Program, Springfield, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT