Although many conditions can present with an acute abdomen in the pediatric age group, the most common are gastroenteritis, appendicitis, and, in the female, conditions related to the genital tract. In both sexes, urinary tract infections also might be included. In the past, the first line of imaging in all of these conditions was the plain abdominal radiograph with upright views. These studies, however, provided minimal information, and currently there is an increasing tendency to proceed directly to ultrasonography. Indeed, ultrasonography is extremely valuable in the pediatric age group. It is easier to accomplish a thorough abdominal examination in children than in adults, primarily because in children there is less adipose tissue to deal with.
The purpose of this lesson is to illustrate the value of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of acute abdominal disease in children.