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Diagnostic imaging can play a significant role in the management of many patients with toxicologic emergencies. Radiography can confirm a diagnosis (eg, by visualizing the xenobiotic), assist in therapeutic interventions such as monitoring gastrointestinal (GI) decontamination, and detect complications of the xenobiotic exposure (Table 5–1).180

TABLE 5–1.Xenobiotics with Diagnostic Imaging Findings

Conventional radiography is readily available in the emergency department (ED) and is the imaging modality most frequently used in acute patient management. Other imaging modalities are used in certain other toxicologic emergencies, including computed tomography (CT); enteric and intravascular contrast studies; ultrasonography; transesophageal echocardiography (TEE); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA); and nuclear scintigraphy, including ­positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission tomography (SPECT).


A number of xenobiotics are radiopaque and can potentially be detected by conventional radiography. Radiography is most useful when a substance that is known to be radiopaque is ...

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