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: 2.73). 03/2012; 32(2):317-34. DOI: 10.1148/rg.322115057
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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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