What Is the Role of Imaging and Reimaging in Patients with Chronic Abdominal Pain?
A frequent clinical question when caring for patients with chronic abdominal pain is when to obtain imaging or repeat imaging. Little consensus guidance exists on this issue. As a significant proportion of patients presenting with chronic abdominal pain have functional syndromes rather than underlying organic disease, providers must be judicious with imaging decisions. The choice of imaging modality should be tailored to assessing for a particular diagnosis, rather than as a screening tool. “Red-flag” symptoms can be useful in raising suspicion for underlying organic disease, but may not always necessitate immediate imaging in the emergency department (ED). More studies are needed, but limited evidence appears to indicate that repeating abdominal CT-imaging after previous negative scans has a relatively low yield.
KeywordsChronic abdominal pain Computed tomography Imaging Red-flag symptoms Functional abdominal pain
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