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Abdominal X-Ray

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An x-ray of the abdomen is called as the abdominal x-ray. In this article we shall learn all about the procedure, reasons and possible risks of undergoing an abdominal x-ray.


Abdominal x-ray is also called as AXR or KUB. KUB stands for kidneys, ureter and bladder. AXR is done to take pictures of the organs in the abdomen. These organs include the liver, spleen, large intestine, stomach and the diaphragm. KUB is carried out to look for problems with the kidneys, ureter and bladder.

X-rays are actually radio waves that can pass through the body. When they reach a dense area, like bones, it creates a picture that is sent to the film. These dense areas appear white on the x-ray film. Less dense areas like muscles or organs appear gray as they block fewer of the x-rays. When the x-rays pass through without any obstruction, that area appears black.

Why is it Done?

There are many reasons for which a doctor may call for an abdominal x-ray. The first and foremost reason for abdominal x-ray are as follows:

Other reasons for abdominal x-ray may include:

  • To understand the reason for pain in the lower back on either side of the vertebral column
  • Presence of stones in kidneys, gallbladder, ureters or bladder
  • Chronic constipation
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Bloating
  • Bowel perforation
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Appendicitis
  • Hirschsprung’s disease
  • Intussusception
  • Chronic colecystitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Blind loop syndrome
  • Injury to kidney, ureter or other organs
  • Blood in urine
  • Diarrhea
  • To find an object swallowed
  • To know the position of nasogastric, nephrostomy or drainage tubes and the catheter for dialysis

Procedure for Abdominal X-Ray

The procedure for abdominal x-ray is very simple. The following information will help you prepare before you undergo one.

Before the Procedure

Abdominal x-ray does not require specific preparation. No change in diet or fasting before the procedure is necessary. Fasting is necessary, only if the doctor advises you in some specific cases. Empty bladder may be necessary in some cases. Make sure you do not wear any jewelry or piercing on your abdomen before you go for an x-ray. Pregnant women or women who suspect pregnancy should never undergo an x-ray. Thus, make sure you let your doctor know if you are pregnant.

How is it Done?

The most common views for an abdominal x-ray include:

  • Anteroposterior (AP) supine
  • Anteroposterior (AP) erect

Other abdominal views requested are:

  • Lateral decubitus
  • Supine lateral
  • KUB (kidneys, ureters, bladder)

According to the view requested, the x-ray technician will position the patient on the x-ray table. The patient may have to lie flat or on the side on the table. In some cases, the patient will be asked to stand erect.

After getting positioned, the patient will be asked to remain still for a few moments. The x-ray beam will be positioned and the requested area photographed.

No pain, discomfort or any sort of irritation will be felt during or after due an x-ray. No sedation is required.

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After the Procedure

Within a few minutes the images will be taken and you will be asked to leave. You will be asked to wait or come back at a specific time to collect your reports. It does not take more than 5-10 minutes to complete an x-ray procedure.

One can go back home and resume daily activities after an x-ray. In case the patient is hospitalized, he will be escorted back to the ward. If the patient is injured or unwell, he will be taken for further treatment.


As this is a radiological test, there is always the fear of the risks involved. However, it is there is very low risk of radiation damage due to an x-ray. However, pregnant women should avoid x-rays as it may cause damage to the growing fetus.


The report will be given the next day. In case of emergency, the report will be given directly to the doctor within minutes. The result may show normal or abnormal x-ray. An abnormal x-ray may show presence of abnormal masses, abnormal build-up of gases, blockage, injury, location of stones, enlargement of organs, tumors, ascites, etc. Accordingly, the doctor will decide the treatment of the condition interpreted based on the x-ray and other test results.

Abdominal x-ray is a simple procedure that helps interpret various conditions. There is no special preparation required before undergoing an abdominal x-ray. Speak to your GP for more details regarding any doubt related to the x-ray of the abdomen.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: March 13, 2015

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