Neonatal abdominal X-rays: indications, procedure and interpretation
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Neonatal abdominal X-rays: indications, procedure and interpretation

Siba Prosad Paul Consultant paediatrician, Yeovil District Hospital, Yeovil, England
Florence Holbrook Neonatal junior clinical fellow, Whittington Hospital, London, England
Lucy Jenner Lecturer in children’s nursing (education), Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, England
Julia James Consultant radiologist, Torbay Hospital, Torquay, England

Why you should read this article
  • To understand the indications for abdominal X-rays in neonates

  • To recognise some of the radiographic findings seen in common neonatal abdominal conditions

  • To enhance your knowledge of neonatal abdominal X-ray procedure and interpretation

Abdominal X-rays (AXRs) are one of the most common imaging modalities used to investigate suspected abdominal conditions in neonates. They are frequently requested for a variety of suspected conditions including necrotising enterocolitis, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, duodenal atresia and Hirschsprung’s disease.

Nurses play an important role in preparing and supporting neonates who are undergoing an AXR, and in some centres advanced neonatal nurse practitioners may be involved in requesting and interpreting AXRs as part of their enhanced role in patient management. It is therefore important that nurses understand the indications, procedure and interpretation for this imaging modality, as well as its limitations and potential long-term risks.

Nursing Children and Young People. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.2021.e1298

Peer review

This article has been subject to open peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Paul SP, Holbrook F, Jenner L et al (2021) Neonatal abdominal X-rays: indications, procedure and interpretation. Nursing Children and Young People. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.2021.e1298

Published online: 01 June 2021

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