Think twice before imaging for abdominal pain: NPS

GPs are being urged to think carefully before referring patients with abdominal pain for imaging after figures showed a large unexplained rise in imaging ordering .

In a newly published advisory the NPS said BEACH study data showed there had been a 45% increase in imaging ordered to investigate abdominal pain between 2002 and 2012 and GPs were now referring one in three patients with abdominal pain for imaging. However the 130,000 extra imaging tests ordered every year had not resulted in any change in the management of abdominal pain.

Ultrasound was the most commonly ordered test for abdominal pain, and CT scans had now overtaken x-ray as the second most commonly ordered test.

The NPS said that while these imaging tests could be of value in patients with atypical presentations