Abdominal X-rays are a series of X-rays taken to diagnose certain abdominal problems. A KUB is an abdominal X-ray that looks at the kidneys, ureters, and bladder.
Who is a candidate for the test?
Abdominal X-rays may be ordered if the healthcare provider suspects a problem involving the organs in the abdominal cavity. Common examples of these problems are:
- abdominal pain
- a bowel obstruction
- a foreign object that has been swallowed
- a kidney disorder
- a mass or swelling
- a perforation, or hole, in the bowel
- severe constipation or diarrhea
How is the test performed?
X-rays are electromagnetic waves of energy that form a picture of bones or other tissues inside the body. The density of the tissue helps dictate how far the X-rays penetrate. Tiny amounts of radiation absorbed by the tissues produce various grades of black and white on X-ray film. An X-ray exam is painless.
When abdominal X-rays are taken, the X-rays may include the:
- flat abdomen, which is taken while lying down
- upright abdomen, which is taken while standing
A person unable to stand may be asked to lie on his or her left side for one of the films.
What is involved in preparation for the test?
A person having an X-ray will completely undress and put on a hospital gown. Jewelry and other metal objects should be removed. The person will be asked the following questions:
- if he or she can briefly hold a breath
- if he or she has any metal objects in his or her body
- if he or she has had a barium enema or upper GI series X-ray in the past 4 to 5 days
- if he or she has taken any medicine with bismuth in it, such as Pepto-Bismol
- when he or she last ate or had something to drink
A woman will also be asked if she might be pregnant. She may also be asked if she has an intrauterine device (IUD).
What do the test results mean?
Abdominal X-rays can detect a wide variety of problems. Some common examples include:
- abnormal masses
- a bowel obstruction
- enlarged organs
- fluid, such as blood or other body fluid, in the abdominal cavity
- gallstones and kidney stones
- a perforation in the bowel
- pneumonia, which could be the cause of abdominal symptoms