Computed tomography (CT) of the retroperitoneum

Computed tomography (CT) is a universal diagnostic method that consists in obtaining images and, based on their construction, 3D images of individual internal organs. The study of the abdominal cavity and retroperitoneal space (the second name is the retroperitoneal space) is carried out with a minimum step of 0.5 mm. The tomograph scans not only internal organs, but also blood vessels, lymph nodes. Then the computer analyzes the received information and builds high-precision images of the surveyed areas.

With the help of CT, the doctor receives a three-dimensional picture of the retroperitoneal space, only then the specialist can see pathologies that are unrealistic to detect by other methods and studies, for example, x-rays or ultrasound.

Features of CT of the retroperitoneal space

Examining the abdominal cavity with a tomograph, the organs of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and organs of the retroperitoneal space are scanned. The organs of the gastrointestinal tract are the pancreas, liver, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, small and large intestines. The organs of the retroperitoneal space include: kidneys and adrenal glands, lymph nodes and blood vessels.

Computed tomography of the retroperitoneal space determines: the presence of stones in the bile ducts and kidneys; congenital anomalies; abscesses; atherosclerosis; vascular changes; neoplasms and foreign bodies; damage to the lymph nodes; trauma; hemorrhages; tumors and cysts.

Also, with the help of computer diagnostics, liver diseases (cirrhosis, hepatitis, hepatosis, fibrosis), helminthiasis can be detected. Scanning the organs of the retroperitoneal space allows you to examine the structure of organs that consist of solid tissue, their changes and pathological processes. CT allows you to see the condition of tubular and hollow organs and the extent of the spread of diseases found.

What is examined during a CT scan?

After CT scan of the retroperitoneal space, data can be obtained confirming the following diagnoses: nephroptosis, polycystic disease, adenoma, hydronephrosis, adrenal cyst, gallbladder pathology, kidney cancer, lymphoma, hemangioma, stenosis, vascular kinks, cholangitis, thrombosis, abdominal aortic aneurysm, diverticulitis, tumor, pancreatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma. But the conclusion of CT is not a diagnosis. It is set by the attending physician, comparing the study data with other data: complaints, anamnesis, test results, etc.

Modern tomographs are distinguished by high accuracy and scanning speed, low radiation exposure and, most importantly, they give a reliable informative result. The conclusion is made by a radiologist, for this he must thoroughly know human anatomy, pathological anatomy, radiology, follow the sequence of examination and be able to decipher the obtained images.

Very often, retroperitoneal CT scans are performed using a contrast agent that is injected intravenously through a catheter. Contrast enhances the quality of images and helps to see the examined areas and organs in detail.

Indications and contraindications

This diagnostic technique is indicated for: inflammatory processes in the abdominal cavity and retroperitoneal space, hepatomegaly, hypertension, mechanical damage to internal organs, urolithiasis, pathologies of the abdominal aorta (stenosis and aneurysm), tumors (benign and malignant).

If the patient has a primary or secondary tumor lesion of the liver, fatty degeneration, cysts, cirrhosis of the liver, helminthiasis, acute or chronic pancreatitis, affected spleen, inflammatory processes in the kidneys, pathology of the adrenal glands, infectious diseases, varicose veins, hypertension, anomalies in the development of the organs of the retroperitoneal space and abdominal cavity, then computed tomography is prescribed.

CT is done:

  • if the patient has complications after surgery on the internal organs;
  • after surgery to see if there is any bleeding or other side effects;
  • for effective rehabilitation after surgery;
  • to control after chemotherapy.

The procedure is contraindicated for people weighing more than 200 kilograms, during pregnancy and lactation, with poor results of an allergic test (the contrast agent contains iodine, to which patients are allergic, therefore before the examination, you need to pass an allergy test). CT should not be prescribed to people with mental disorders and serious diseases of the liver and kidneys.

Preparing for examination

Prior to CT, the patient should undergo ultrasound, colonoscopy, gastroscopy and X-ray. With the results of the examination, the patient is sent to the doctor, who decides whether computed tomography of the retroperitoneal space is needed or not. With a positive decision, the specialist gives a referral for a CT scan.

Although this procedure is painless and as safe as possible, preparation should be made for it. Within 3 days you must follow a diet. Avoid foods that cause gas and constipation from your diet.

The patient comes to the procedure completely on an empty stomach. The last meal should be at least 6-8 hours before the start of the study.

How is the procedure performed?

To study the condition of the retroperitoneal organs, it is best to perform multislice CT. It allows you to examine the desired areas in layers and make the correct diagnosis.

The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. The patient must come to the diagnosis in advance in order to prepare - remove metal objects, a belt and outerwear. If the attending physician has prescribed a CT scan with contrast, then a native study is done first, then a contrast agent is injected into the cubital vein through a venous catheter.


After the introduction of contrast and other preparatory measures, the patient lies on the table on his back. During the procedure, you should breathe calmly and listen to the specialist who conducts the diagnosis. Your doctor will tell you when to hold your breath to take a picture. The duration of the study takes 10-15 minutes, if a contrast agent is injected - 25-30 minutes.

Qualified medical staff will supervise the procedure. After the examination is completed, the catheter is removed and the patient can dress. After a CT scan, it is recommended to drink plenty of fluids.

The radiologist will interpret the images and issue them with his report. In some clinics, the results of CT scan of the retroperitoneal space can be recorded on a special media. With the conclusion of the radiologist, the patient is sent to the attending physician, who prescribes a course of treatment based on the results of the examination.