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The role of radiology in diagnosis and management of drug mules: an update with new challenges and new diagnostic tools.

Emergency physicians and radiologists have been increasingly encountering internal concealment of illegal drugs. The packages commonly contain powdered solid drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and hashish, but they may also contain cocaine in the liquid form. The second type of package has recently been more commonly encountered, and poses a greater diagnostic challenge. As clinical evaluation and laboratory tests frequently fail to make the correct diagnosis, imaging examination is typically required. Imaging methods assume a vital role in the diagnosis, follow-up and management. Abdominal X-ray, ultrasonography, CT and MRI are used for the imaging purposes. Among the aforementioned methods, low-dose CT is state-of-the-art in these cases. It is of paramount importance that radiologists have a full knowledge of the imaging characteristics of these packages and accurately guide physicians and security officials.

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