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Computed tomographic and magnetic resonance features of gynecologic abnormalities in women presenting with acute or chronic abdominal pain.

  • Kalish, Grace M
  • Patel, Maitray D
  • Gunn, Martin L D
  • Dubinsky, Theodore J
Published Article
Ultrasound quarterly
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2007
PMID: 17805165


Advances in technology and improved availability have led to increased use of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate women presenting to the emergency department or to their primary care provider with abdominal and/or pelvic pain. Computed tomographic examinations are often performed to evaluate the presence of appendicitis or renal stone disease. However, gynecologic abnormalities are frequently identified on these examinations. Although ultrasound remains the primary modality by which complaints specific to the pelvis are evaluated, in many instances, CT and MRI imaging occurs before sonographic evaluation.Historically, because of cost, radiation exposure, and relative ease of use, ultrasound examinations have preceded all other imaging modalities when evaluating pelvic disorders. However, as CT and MRI technology have improved, their use in diagnosing causes of pelvic pain has become equal to that of ultrasound. In some cases, primarily because of historic comfort with sonographic evaluation, gynecologic abnormalities originally diagnosed on CT or MRI may be immediately and unnecessarily reevaluated by ultrasound. For a woman in her reproductive years, the most common adnexal masses are physiological cysts, endometriomas, and cystic teratomas. Although lesions are often asymptomatic and incidentally detected, they can present with pain, and they increase the risk of ovarian torsion. Common causes of chronic pelvic pain in this population include leiomyomata and adenomyosis. In postmenopausal women, ovarian carcinoma, which often does not present clinically until a late stage, has to be included in the differential diagnosis of adnexal masses. If a gynecologic pathology is discovered on CT or MRI, an immediate follow-up ultrasound need not be pursued if the lesion can be characterized as benign, needing immediate surgical intervention, or a variant of normal anatomy. If, on the other hand, findings demonstrate a mass that either is uncharacteristic of a benign lesion, has an indeterminate risk for malignancy, or demonstrates suspicious characteristics for malignancy (such as enhancing mural nodules), further evaluation by serial ultrasound, biochemical marker, and/or CT or MRI is warranted. The purpose of this review is to present a series of commonly encountered gynecologic abnormalities with either CT or MR to make radiologists more familiar with gynecologic pathology on CT and MRI.

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