Small bowel obstruction

Case contributed by Dr Henry Knipe


Known small bowel obstruction. Previous bowel resection for diverticulitis. Study performed to see if resolution of bowel obstruction had occurred.

Patient Data

Age: 85
Gender: Female

Small bowel follow-through

200mL of gastrografin was administered via an NGT after a preliminary film had been taken.


Preliminary film. Gastrografin had been administered 24 hours previously.

Six hours after contrast administration the small bowel opacifies showing dilated loops measuring up to 5cm. In the 11 hour film the contrast remains within the small bowel without progression into the colon and this is confirmed on the 16 hour film. Faecal material is seen within the colon. Pacemaker leads, left hip screw and costal cartilage calcification are noted. 


Features consistent with a persistent small bowel obstruction. 

Case Discussion

Small bowel obstructions (SBO) are a common surgical condition with significant morbidity and mortality. Small bowel follow-through contrast studies can be used to have a both diagnostic and therapeutic effect. Typical appearances of a SBO on a small bowel follow-through included dilation of the small bowel without opacification of the large bowel. Perforation is a late complication of small bowel obstruction; in this case gastrografin was the preferred contrast agent over barium because of the risk of barium peritonitis. 

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Case information

rID: 22673
Published: 15th Apr 2013
Last edited: 16th Jul 2018
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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