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Computed Tomography in Emergency Diagnosis and Management Considerations of Small Bowel Obstruction for Surgical vs. Non-surgical Approach

Author(s):

Saeed Taghavifar, Peter Joyce, Sana Salehi*, Faisal Khosa, Heeseop Shin, Ali Gholamrezanezhad and Samad Shah  

Abstract:


Background: Small bowel obstruction (SBO) accounts for 15% of abdominal pain complaints referred to emergency departments and imposes significant financial burdens on the healthcare system. The absence of passage of flatus or stool and abdominal distention are reported as the most common symptom and a sign of SBO, respectively. Patients who do not demonstrate severe clinical or imaging findings are typically treated with conservative approaches. Patients with clinical signs of sepsis or physical findings of peritonitis are often instantly transferred to the operating room without supplementary imaging assessment. However, in cases where symptoms are non-specific, or the physical examination is challenging, such as in cases with loss of consciousness, the diagnosis can be complicated. This paper discusses the key findings detectable on Computed tomography (CT), which are vital for the emergent triage, proper treatment, and decision making in patients with speculated SBO.

Method: Narrative review of the literature.

Results and conclusion: CT plays a key role in emergent triage, proper treatment, and decision making. It provides high sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy in the detection of early-stage obstruction and acute intestinal vascular compromise. It can also differentiate between various etiologies of this entity which is considered an important criterion in the triage of patients into surgical vs. non-surgical treatment. There are multiple CT findings, such as mesenteric edema, lack of the small-bowel feces, bowel wall thickening, fat stranding in the mesentery, and intraperitoneal fluid, which are predictive of urgent surgical exploration.

Keywords:

abdominal pain, intestinal obstruction, emergency service, hospital, sepsis, tomography, X-Ray computed, radiology

Affiliation:

Department of General Surgery, Orjhans Street, Resalat Blvd, Urmia, Department of Radiology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California (USC), 1500 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, California 90033, Department of Radiology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California (USC), 1500 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, California 90033, Department of Radiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Department of Radiology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California (USC), 1500 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, California 90033, Department of Radiology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California (USC), 1500 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, California 90033, Department of Radiology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California (USC), 1500 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, California 90033



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