UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Ultrasound

Title: POCUS for SBO

Keywords: POCUS, GI, SBO (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/8/2024 by Alexis Salerno, MD
Click here to contact Alexis Salerno, MD

POCUS has been shown to have a 92.4% sensitive (95% CI 89.0% to 94.7%) and 96.6% specific for identifying SBO. 

Some characteristics of SBO include:

-dilated fluid filled bowel  

-contents of bowel moving to and fro like a washer machine 

-wall thickening and ability to see plicae circulares 

- in high grade obstruction you may also notice intraperitoneal fluid near the dilated bowel. 


Gottlieb M, Peksa GD, Pandurangadu AV, Nakitende D, Takhar S, Seethala RR. Utilization of ultrasound for the evaluation of small bowel obstruction: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Emerg Med. 2018 Feb;36(2):234-242. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2017.07.085.