Abdominal Imaging

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 1853–1857 | Cite as

Incidental findings detected on emergency abdominal CT scans: a 1-year review

  • M. E. Kelly
  • A. Heeney
  • C. E. Redmond
  • J. Costelloe
  • G. J. Nason
  • J. Ryan
  • D. Brophy
  • D. C. Winter



In recent years, there has been a substantial rise in the use of computed tomography (CT) in the emergency medicine setting. Accordingly, with increased CT usage there has been an upsurge in incidental pathology detection.


A retrospective review of all emergency CT abdominal scans performed at a university teaching hospital was examined. The frequency of incidental findings, their clinical significance and workload effect for the radiology department was assessed.


1155 patients had an emergency abdominal CT scan of which 700 had incidental findings detected. Of the incidental findings, 143 were deemed indeterminate requiring urgent investigations. Twenty-four occult neoplasms were confirmed subsequently. Additionally, 259 patients were recommended for additional diagnostics. The cumulative effect of the initial emergency abdominal CT was 15,015 relative value units (RVU). Subsequent imaging of incidental findings resulted in another 1674 RVU workload for radiology.


Incidental findings cause considerable debate and concern over which patients require significant follow-up, investigations, and/or surveillance. This exerts significant pressures on sub-specialties for their expert input, with increased workload and implications on healthcare service provision.


Emergency medicine Surgical care Acute surgical management Computed tomography Incidental findings 


Conflict of interest

All authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. E. Kelly
    • 1
  • A. Heeney
    • 1
  • C. E. Redmond
    • 2
  • J. Costelloe
    • 1
  • G. J. Nason
    • 1
  • J. Ryan
    • 3
  • D. Brophy
    • 2
  • D. C. Winter
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SurgerySt Vincent’s University HospitalDublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.Department of RadiologySt Vincent’s University HospitalDublin 4Ireland
  3. 3.Department of Emergency MedicineSt Vincent’s University HospitalDublin 4Ireland

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