MR imaging for acute nontraumatic abdominopelvic pain: Rationale and practical considerations

Michael Lubarsky, Bobby Kalb, Puneet Sharma, Samuel M. Keim, Diego R. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Medical imaging is becoming an increasingly vital component of patient care in the emergency department. Computed tomography has been the diagnostic imaging method of choice for emergency department patients with acute abdominopelvic pain; however, the use of ionizing radiation and the potential need for exogenous contrast material adversely affect patient safety and work flow efficiency, respectively. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging holds promise as an alternative for the evaluation of acute abdominopelvic pain. Critical causes of abdominopelvic pain may be detected with MR imaging without exogenous contrast material. MR imaging is sensitive for depicting tissue or fluid changes related to inflammation, a common process in causes of acute abdominopelvic pain. Fat suppression allows the detection of abnormal signal caused by inflamed tissue. MR imaging has proved sensitive in the detection of acute inflammatory diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts, liver, pancreas, kidneys, collecting system, bowel, and pelvic soft tissues. Moreover, MR imaging without exogenous contrast material may be safely used in pregnant patients. Evolving roles for emergency department MR imaging include the assessment of vascular disease (including thromboembolic disease) and right upper quadrant pain. Emergency department MR imaging currently has limited availability, and its continued use will require further education regarding operation and image interpretation as well as further validation of cost-effectiveness. Nevertheless, current understanding of the diagnostic utility of this imaging method warrants continued study and the increased use of MR imaging in the evaluation of emergency department patients with acute abdominopelvic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-337
Number of pages25
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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