Interpreting An Abdominal CT Scan


The following guide helps walk you through a comprehensive approach to understand and interpreting abdominal CT scans. As a refresher read this guide on the fundamentals of CT studies to help orient yourself.


When interpreting any radiological study it is important to have a clear algorithm.

  1. Lungs: begin with a lung window and look for any nodules/findings
  2. Heart: switch to a soft tissue/abdominal window and look for any findings
  3. Liver: soft tissue/abdominal window. Any lesions/abnormal findings.
  4. Gallbladder/bile ducts:  soft tissue window
  5. Pancreas: abdomen window. Masses etc.
  6. Spleen: masses/enlargement
  7. Adrenals: masses or enlargement
  8. Kidneys: look also with coronal. Evaluate for mass, stones, or masses.
  9. Ureters: Track ureters if possible and look for any obstruction 2/2 masses etc.
  10. GI tract: begin at rectum and run the bowel in the opposite direction. Evaluate all the bowels for inflammation, thickening
  11. Stomach: look for distention
  12. Vascular: follow the aorta, look at celiac, SMA, IMA
  13. Retroperitoneal/mesentery/peritoneal cavity: any abnormal findings or lymphadenopathy
  14. Bones: utilize the bone window. Evaluate the vertebrae using a saggital view. Look at the ribs as well and any other bones that are in view.


Page Updated: 07.31.2017