Repeat CT for Abdominal Pain Reveals Additional Findings 

Leesburg, VA, February 15, 2019—According to a study published in the February 2019 issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), 30% of patients who underwent repeat abdominal CT within 1 month of the index CT examination had different or worse findings.

The study, “Repeat CT Performed Within One Month of CT Conducted in the Emergency Department for Abdominal Pain: A Secondary Analysis of Data From a Prospective Multicenter Study,” is a secondary analysis of data from a prospective multicenter study that included patients who underwent CT in the emergency department (ED) for abdominal pain between 2012 and 2014.

Of the 544 patients in the study, 53 (10%) underwent repeat abdominal CT, and of those patients 30% (16/53) had new or worse findings. The authors sought to determine both the frequency of repeat CT after a patient undergoes CT evaluation in an ED for abdominal pain and the frequency of worsened or new CT-based diagnoses.

In addition to tracking the diagnoses and processes in both CT examinations, authors also considered patient characteristics (such as age, sex, number of days between CT examinations) and ED physicians’ diagnostic confidence (rated from 0% to 100%) after the CT index scan was obtained.

Results of the index and repeat CT scans were compared by two abdominal radiologists with 5 and 17 years of experience. Patients were sorted into one of four groups: no change in findings (group 1); same process in both CT examinations, improved findings (group 2); same process, but worse findings (group 3); or different processes (group 4). When comparing groups 1 and 2 against groups 3 and 4, the authors found no significant differences between patient characteristics and the ED physician’s diagnostic confidence level.

Although repeat CT scans can seem like an unnecessary use of resources, the study authors stress the importance of additional research to further assess the physician decision-making process to better identify patients who are more likely to benefit from short-term, repeat abdominal CT examinations. For more information, visit

Founded in 1900, ARRS is the first and oldest radiology society in the United States, and is an international forum for progress in radiology. The Society's mission is to improve health through a community committed to advancing knowledge and skills in radiology. ARRS achieves its mission through an annual scientific and educational meeting, publication of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) and InPractice magazine, topical symposia and webinars, and print and online educational materials. ARRS is located in Leesburg, VA.