Abdominal X-ray - Abnormal bowel gas pattern

Tutorial key points

  • Suspected bowel obstruction or perforation are the main indications for abdominal X-ray
  • An ERECT chest X-ray should be requested if perforation is suspected
  • The pattern of bowel dilatation may help determine a level of obstruction
  • Occasionally features of inflammatory bowel disease are demonstrated on abdominal X-rays

Related tutorials

This brief tutorial has discussed the important abnormalities of bowel gas which may be demonstrated on an abdominal X-ray.

If bowel perforation is suspected don't forget to request an erect chest X-ray.

In the context of obstruction, the level may be determined on an abdominal X-ray.

There is also a role for abdominal X-rays in the assessment of an acute exacerbation of inflammatory bowel disease.

Your course assessment certificate

A certificated course completion assessment is available which is based on the material in this tutorial and the related sections.

All the certificated online course completion assessments provided by Radiology Masterclass award CPD/CME credits in accordance with the CPD Scheme of the Royal College of Radiologists, London, UK.

Page author: Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust UK (Read bio)

Last reviewed: October 2019