Plain abdominal radiography as a routine procedure for acute abdominal pain of the right lower quadrant: prospective evaluation

World J Surg. 1999 Mar;23(3):262-4. doi: 10.1007/pl00013181.


The aim of this prospective study was to determine whether plain abdominal radiographs (PAX) are helpful in the management of adult patients presenting with acute pain of the right lower quadrant (RLQ). A questionnaire was filled in for each patient admitted to our hospital for acute abdominal pain of the RLQ, before and after PAX were obtained. The initial questionnaire indicated the suspected diagnosis and a provisional therapeutic option. A total of 104 consecutive patients were included in this study, 76 of whom underwent surgery. The negative laparotomy rate was 22%. PAX changed the suspected diagnosis and management for six patients (6%), leading in one case to negative laparotomy. Of the remaining five patients, three were operated (two for acute appendicitis and one for small bowel obstruction), and two were treated conservatively for ureteral calculi. This prospective study seems to demonstrate that the indiscriminate use of PAX is not helpful for most patients with acute pain of the RLQ. However, it may be performed in selected patients with clinically suspected small bowel obstruction or urinary symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen, Acute / diagnostic imaging*
  • Abdomen, Acute / etiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Appendicitis / complications
  • Appendicitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Surveys and Questionnaires