MR Imaging Evaluation of Abdominal Pain during Pregnancy: Appendicitis and Other Nonobstetric Causes

Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Women and Infants Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, USA.
Radiographics (Impact Factor: 2.6). 03/2012; 32(2):317-34. DOI: 10.1148/rg.322115057
Source: PubMed


Clinical diagnosis of the cause of abdominal pain in a pregnant patient is particularly difficult because of multiple confounding factors related to normal pregnancy. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is useful in evaluation of abdominal pain during pregnancy, as it offers the benefit of cross-sectional imaging without ionizing radiation or evidence of harmful effects to the fetus. MR imaging is often performed specifically for diagnosis of possible appendicitis, which is the most common illness necessitating emergency surgery in pregnant patients. However, it is important to look for pathologic processes outside the appendix that may be an alternative source of abdominal pain. Numerous entities other than appendicitis can cause abdominal pain during pregnancy, including processes of gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, genitourinary, vascular, and gynecologic origin. MR imaging is useful in diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain in a pregnant patient because of its ability to safely demonstrate a wide range of pathologic conditions in the abdomen and pelvis beyond appendicitis.

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    • "Diagnosis of pelvic pain in pregnant women is confounded by several factors found in a normal pregnancy, such as nonspecific leukocytosis, displacement of abdominal and pelvic structures from their normal locations by the gravid uterus, a difficult abdominal examination, and nonspecific nausea and vomiting [1–3]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Acute pelvic pain in pregnancy presents diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Standard imaging techniques need to be adapted to reduce harm to the foetus from X-rays because of their teratogenic and carcinogenic potential. Ultrasound remains the primary imaging investigation of the pregnant abdomen. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been shown to be useful in the diagnosis of gynaecological and obstetric problems during pregnancy and in the setting of acute abdomen during pregnancy. MRI overcomes some of the limitations of ultrasound, mainly the size of the gravid uterus. MRI poses theoretical risks to the foetus and care must be taken to minimise these with the avoidance of contrast agents. Teaching Points • Ultrasound and MRI are the preferred investigations for acute pelvic pain during pregnancy. • Ultrasound remains the primary imaging investigation because of availability and portability. • MRI helps differentiate causes of acute pelvic pain when ultrasound is inconclusive.
    Insights into Imaging 02/2014; 5(2). DOI:10.1007/s13244-014-0314-8
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    RöFo - Fortschritte auf dem Gebiet der R 10/2012; 185(1). DOI:10.1055/s-0032-1325396 · 1.40 Impact Factor
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    Radiology 01/2013; 267(1). DOI:10.1148/radiol.12121027 · 6.87 Impact Factor
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