Positive Oral Contrast Material for Abdominal CT: Current Clinical Indications and Areas of Controversy
AJR Am J Roentgenol . 2020 Jul;215(1):69-78. doi: 10.2214/AJR.19.21989. Epub 2020 Jan 8.
Perry J Pickhardt
OBJECTIVE. The use of positive oral contrast material for abdominal CT is a frequent protocol issue. Confusion abounds regarding its use, and practice patterns often appear arbitrary. Turning to the existing literature for answers is unrewarding, because most studies are underpowered or not designed to address key endpoints. Even worse, many decisions are now being driven by nonradiologists for throughput gains rather than patient-specific considerations. Herein, the current indications for positive oral contrast material are discussed, including areas of controversy.
CONCLUSION. As radiologists, we owe it to our patients to drive the appropriate use of positive oral contrast material. At the very least, we should not allow nonradiologists to restrict its use solely on the basis of throughput concerns; rather, we should allow considerations of image quality and diagnostic confidence to enter into the decision process. Based on differences in prior training and practice patterns, some radiologists will prefer to limit the use of positive oral contrast material more than others. However, for those who believe (as I do) that it can genuinely increase diagnostic confidence and can sometimes (rather unpredictably) make a major impact on diagnosis, it behooves us to keep fighting for its use.
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