UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Visual Diagnosis

Title: What's the Diagnosis?

Posted: 6/22/2014 by Haney Mallemat, MD (Emailed: 6/23/2014) (Updated: 6/23/2014)
Click here to contact Haney Mallemat, MD


35 year-old female presents with nausea and vomiting 1 week post-op for an abdominal surgery. Abdominal ultrasound is below; what's the diagnosis? 


Small bowel obstruction (SBO)

Ultrasound for Small bowel obstruction (SBO)

  • Wait….ultrasound can be used to detect an SBO? Yes, it can!
  • Historically, abdominal XRay has a 77% and 57% (sensitivity and specificity, respectively) for SBO; ultrasound has 88% and 96% sensitivity and specificity, respectively.
  • Want to learn more about ultrasound for SBO? Click here for a podcast describing the technique by Mike and Matt from the Ultrasound Podcast (@ultrasoundpodcast)
  • Bottom line: Consider using ultrasound as your initial screening test for SBO, rather than an abdominal XR


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