When are imaging studies indicated in the workup of constipation?

Updated: Jul 05, 2019
  • Author: Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

In patients with acute abdominal pain, fever, leukocytosis, or other symptoms suggesting possible systemic or intra-abdominal processes, imaging studies are used to rule out sources of sepsis or intra-abdominal problems. Order an upright chest roentgenogram and a flat and upright abdominal film. The abdominal film may reveal a colon full of stool (see the images below), confirming the diagnosis of obstipation.

Constipation. Note the large amount of stool throu Constipation. Note the large amount of stool throughout the colon on this radiograph.
Constipation. A large stool mass is visible in the Constipation. A large stool mass is visible in the hepatic flexure of the colon.

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