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The abdominal X-ray: gas patterns


Peter Devitt
Consultant Surgeon
Chair, MCQ Panel of Examiners
Australian Medical Council


Rightly or wrongly, the plain abdominal X-ray is steadily being replaced by the CT scan. Whilst the latter can obviously yield much more information than the plain film, a CT scan is relatively expensive and does expose the patient to a substantial dose of radiation. Used appropriately, the plain radiograph will provide the necessary information for certain clinical problems.  Its strengths are being able to identify different gas patterns and abnormal areas of calcification. Here are ten examples of the former.

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