Tailored helical CT evaluation of acute abdomen

Bruce A. Urban, Elliot K. Fishman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Helical computed tomography (CT) allows rapid, cost-effective evaluation of patients with acute abdominal pain. Tailoring the examination to the working clinical diagnosis by optimizing constituent factors (eg, timing of acquisition, contrast material used, means and rate of contrast material administration, collimation, pitch) can markedly improve diagnostic accuracy. Rapid (≥3 mL/sec) intravenous injection of contrast material is required for optimal assessment of acute pancreatitis, ischémie bowel, aortic aneurysm, and aortic dissection. Narrow collimation and small reconstruction intervals can help detect calculi in the biliary system and genitourinary tract. Tailored helical CT in patients with acute pyelonephritis usually involves several acquisitions through the kidneys during various phases of renal enhancement. In patients with suspected renal infarction, CT protocol must include an acquisition during the corticomedullary phase. Helical CT with 5-mm collimation through the lower abdomen and pelvis is used to evaluate patients with suspected diverticulitis. Use of both oral and intravenous contrast material can help localize small bowel perforation and characterize related complications. Tailored helical CT for assessment of abdominal hemorrhage consists of initial unenhanced CT followed by optional contrast material-enhanced CT. Clear communication between the radiologist, the patient, and the referring physician is essential for narrowing the differential diagnosis into a working diagnosis prior to helical CT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-749
Number of pages25
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Abdomen, CT, **.1211
  • Abdomen, acute conditions, 72.25, 74.723, 751.291, 76.285, 762.81, 77.291, 81.2121, 82.21
  • Appendicitis, 751.291
  • Cholecystitis, 76.285
  • Computed tomography (CT), helical technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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