by Whitney Palmer of Diagnostic Imaging

Scans are useful in identifying causes of nearly half of patients in the emergency department who have unintentional weight loss.

Pinpointing the cause of unintentional weight loss can be a tall order, but CT scans can help shed light on the cause with patients who present to the emergency room.

In a study published recently in Emergency Radiologyinvestigators from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center/Case Western Research University revealed that CT can provide an answer is nearly half of cases.

Although unexplained weight loss is not a common presentation in the emergency department, the team said, existing research indicates that 5 percent to 7 percent of adults nationwide seek help for the problem in this setting each year. Consequently, it is critical emergency providers better understand the role CT can play in helping them triage patients.

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“Our findings indicate that CT is a useful first-line imaging approach for the identification of organic causes of [unintentional weight loss,] with a true-positive rate of 48.8 percent,” the team said. “The use of CT scanning in the evaluation of UWL in the ED yielded a diagnosis in approximately half of all cases, indicating good diagnostic value.”

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