Gallstones or undissolved pills - can your M.D. tell the difference?

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Gallstones or undissolved pills - can your M.D. tell the difference?

The X-ray of the elderly patient showed a cluster of suspicious white blobs in the abdomen. Gallstones, thought the woman's physician. But closer examination revealed them to be undigested iron pills.

This incident spurred Dr. Jonathan Evans, an internist at Mayo Clinic to investigate common pills to see how well they show up on X-rays. Dr. Evans and colleagues examined 50 medications, including painkillers, antibiotics, minerals and cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, psychiatric and respiratory drugs.

Results were published in "Mayo Clinic Proceedings." All 50 medications were found to be clearly visible to varying degrees on plain X-ray films. As a group, minerals were found to be the most visible with potassium chloride topping the list.

Unless doctors use caution, they might not immediately be able to tell the difference and could begin treating the patient for gallstones, kidney stones or other similar conditions.

SOURCE "Study Finds That Most Pills Will Show Upon X-rays," Mayo Clinic, Aug. 4, 1998.

The Chiropractic Journal.

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