Investigation of Small Bowel Obstruction

A McLean

Hong Kong J Radiol 2004;7:3-7

Intestinal obstruction accounts for up to 20% of acute surgical hospital admissions and suspected small bowel obstruction accounts for most of these admissions. Adhesions due to previous surgery are often the underlying cause. While the clinical history may point to the likely cause in many patients, imaging is required to determine the completeness and cause of the obstruction and to determine its management. This review evaluates the role of plain film and water soluble contrast follow-through and discusses the strengths and weakness of computed tomography and its role in the diagnosis of associated ischaemia. Emerging techniques that may contribute to diagnosis are reviewed.