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Commonly Missed Findings on CT Abdomen/Pelvis

CT: the donut of truth. Most physicians breathe a little easier sending a patient home with a negative CT abdomen/pelvis. However, the power of x-ray vision doesn’t allow us to turn off our brains. Certain pathologies may have only subtle findings on CT, and others may lend themselves better to other imaging modalities, such as ultrasound. By being aware of these pathologies and how to identify them, we can better recognize patients at risk of a missed diagnosis.

clinical cases

Bounceback: An Unrelenting Headache

CC: Headache First visit HPI: 29 year old female with a prior history of headaches, presented with two days of gradual onset, atraumatic, right sided headache that is throbbing in nature. The patient reported heaviness about the eye but no visual changes or disturbances. No neck pain, fevers, chills. She described feeling slightly light-headed but no balance loss. She had a mechanical trip and fall yesterday without head trauma, and her headache had been present for a day prior to the fall. ROS: otherwise normal. PMH/PSH: headaches, depression, anxiety, asthma SH: no smoking, no etoh, no drugs Allergies: Penicillin (rash) Pertinent Exam Vitals: 98.6F, BP: 156/85 P: 101, RR: 16, O2: 98%RA Gen: A&Ox3, well-developed, well-nourished HEENT: normocephalic, atraumatic, conjunctiva wnl, EOM wnl, PERRL, normal fundoscopic exam, crisp optic discs, normal ROM neck/supple Chest: wnl Abd: wnl Musculoskeletal: wnl Neuro: CN2-12 intact, normal reflexes, normal muscle tone, normal coordination Labs: Serum HCG negative Imaging: None ordered ED Course: The patient was believed to be experiencing a migraine headache. She had no evidence of head trauma, no signs of infectious etiology, and had no clinical findings or hx for SAH. She was administered Toradol, IVF and Reglan, and discharged with instructions to follow up with neurology and possibly have an outpatient MRI. Discharge Dx: Headache [...]