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November 1984

Roentgenographic Contrast Studies in Acute Small-Bowel Obstruction

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery (Drs Dunn and Berne) and Radiology (Dr Halls), University of Southern California School of Medicine and Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center, Los Angeles.

Arch Surg. 1984;119(11):1305-1308. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1984.01390230071017

• Plain abdominal roentgenograms are usually adequate for the treatment of patients with small-bowel obstruction. There is a select group of patients who may benefit from a more precise diagnosis or by nonoperative therapy for whom contrast roentgenograms may be helpful. Contrast roentgenograms were performed in 68 (21%) of 327 patients who had nondiagnostic abdominal films, atypical histories or findings, or those in whom nonoperative resolution would be highly desirable. Sixty-eight percent of 48 contrast tracers gave useful information, whereas 75% of 24 contrast enemas were helpful. Contrast material passed through a site of obstruction in 34 patients, yet 13(38%) still required an operation. Contrast material did not pass in 16 patients and only one avoided a surgical procedure. No difference was noted between barium sulfate or water-soluble contrast material or how it was administered.

(Arch Surg 1984;119:1305-1308)