Emergency Radiology

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 601–608 | Cite as

Effect of intravenous contrast for CT abdomen and pelvis on detection of urgent and non-urgent pathology: can repeat CT within 72 hours be avoided?

  • Christine LamoureuxEmail author
  • Scott Weber
  • Tarek Hanna
  • Andrew J. Grabiel
  • Reese H. Clark
Original Article



To determine if administering IV contrast for CT abdomen and pelvis improves detection of urgent and clinically important non-urgent pathology in patients with urgent clinical symptoms compared to patients not receiving IV contrast, and in turn to determine whether repeat CT exams on the same patient within 72 h were of low diagnostic benefit if the first CT was performed with IV contrast.


We evaluated 400 consecutive patients who had CT abdomen and pelvis (CT AP) examinations repeated within 72 h. For each patient, demographic data, reason for examination, examination time stamps, and examination technique were documented. CT AP radiology reports were reviewed and both urgent and non-urgent pathology was extracted.


Of 400 patients, 63% had their initial CT AP without contrast. Administration of IV contrast for the first CT AP was associated with increased detection of urgent findings compared with non-contrast CT (p = 0.004) and a contrast-enhanced CT AP following an initial non-contrast CT AP examination better characterized both urgent (p = 0.002) and non-urgent findings (p < 0.001). Adherence to ACR appropriateness criteria for IV contrast administration was associated with increased detection of urgent pathology on the first CT (p = 0.02), and the second CT was more likely to be performed with IV contrast if recommended by the radiologist reading the first CT (p = 0.0006).


In the absence of contraindications, encouraging urgent care physicians to preferentially order IV contrast-enhanced CT AP examinations in adherence with ACR appropriateness criteria may increase detection of urgent pathology and avoid short-term repeat CT AP.


IV contrast CT abdomen and pelvis Radiology Repeat CT 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest with any financial organization regarding the material discussed in the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© American Society of Emergency Radiology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Lamoureux
    • 1
    Email author
  • Scott Weber
    • 1
  • Tarek Hanna
    • 2
  • Andrew J. Grabiel
    • 1
  • Reese H. Clark
    • 3
  1. 1.Virtual Radiologic ProfessionalsEden PrairieUSA
  2. 2.Division of Emergency Radiology, Department of Radiology and Imaging SciencesEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.MEDNAX Center for Research, Education, Quality and SafetySunriseUSA

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