CT a Critical Tool in Assessing Abdominal Pain in Emergency Rooms

According to an article on PhysOrg.com, a study has found that "the use of CT scanning to evaluate abdominal pain in emergency departments can help physicians arrive at a diagnosis quickly and decisively,” and that “information provided by CT scans changed treatment plans for almost half the patients studied and significantly reduced probable hospital admissions."

This study confirms our experience at UCSF that CT is a critical tool in the management of patients with abdominal pain in the emergency department. CT facilitates earlier diagnosis of conditions that require admission or surgery, and when negative can be a useful adjunct in deciding that a patient can be discharged or managed conservatively. The benefits of better management resulting in improved patient triage and overall cost savings should be carefully considered when deciding whether to perform a CT scan in a patient with acute abdominal pain, and should be balanced against the costs of the scan and potential radiation risk.