How to interpret emergency abdominal imaging
The main aim of emergency abdominal imaging is to assess the severity of the abdominal disease and to decide whether or not the patient requires urgent surgical intervention. Acute abdominal cases likely to require such intervention include gastro-intestinal obstruction or torsion, gastro-intestinal perforation, septic peritonitis, abdominal trauma (for example resulting in abdominal haemorrhage or urinary tract rupture) and haemorrhage secondary to rupture of a diseased abdominal organ. Critical imaging findings indicating the need for surgery therefore include the presence of abnormal gastro-intestinal dilation, free abdominal fluid and/or free abdominal gas. This lecture will review the choice of imaging technique and the interpretation of the findings.