An X-ray of the abdomen. An X-ray is a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body.

Parts of the body involved:


Reasons for the procedure:

  • To help diagnose the source of nausea, vomiting, pain or other symptoms related to the abdomen.
  • To identify suspected urinary system problems, such as a kidney stone.
  • To identify a tumor or blockage in the intestine or kidneys.
  • To locate a foreign object that has been swallowed.
  • To assess whether air or fluid is in the peritoneal space (the space surrounding the abdominal organs).
  • To assess the amount of fecal material in the colon and evaluate the presence of fecal impactions.

Risk factors that may lead to complications:

The following factors can interfere with the clarity of the X-rays:

  • Large amounts of gas or stool in the intestines.
  • Excessive peritoneal fluid (fluid from the sac that lines the abdomen).
  • Obesity.
  • Large calcified uterine fibroids.
  • Dye or barium left from previous tests.

What to expect before the procedure:

  • You will probably be asked not to eat or drink anything for 4 hours before your exam.
  • You'll remove your clothes and put on a hospital gown. You'll also need to remove all metal-containing items, including jewelry and watches.
  • Tell your doctor if you:
    • Have taken bismuth medications (such as Pepto-Bismol) within the last four days.
    • Had a barium contrast media X-ray within the last four days.
    • Have an IUD currently inserted.
    • Are pregnant or could possibly be pregnant.

During the procedure:

No special interventions.



Description of the procedure:

You will lie flat on your back underneath the X-ray machine and remain still while the X-ray is taken. You may be asked to shift to other positions for more X-rays (e.g., on your abdomen or standing).

After the procedure:

You can resume normal activity.

How long will it take?

About 10 minutes.

Will it hurt?


Possible complications:


Average hospital stay:


Postoperative care:

You may resume all normal activity after the procedure


The KUB may help your doctor identify the source of your pain. If these X-rays show a mass, blockage, or other abnormality, you may undergo further testing, which can include:

  • Ultrasound - a test that uses sound waves to visualize the inside of the body.
  • Abdominal and pelvic CT scan - a type of X-ray that uses a computer to take pictures of the inside of the body.
  • Intravenous pyelography (IVP) - a series of X-rays of the urinary system taken after injection of a dye.

Call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

There are usually no reported complications after this procedure.