Therapeutic Role of Oral Water Soluble Iodinated Contrast agent in Postoperative Small Bowel Obstruc...
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Therapeutic Role of Oral Water Soluble Iodinated Contrast agent in Postoperative Small Bowel Obstruction. Introduction. Small bowel obstruction (SBO) is a very common problem in emergency surgery, accounting for 20% of all surgical admissions.

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Introduction 2090020

Therapeutic Role of Oral Water Soluble Iodinated Contrast agent in Postoperative Small Bowel Obstruction



  • Small bowel obstruction (SBO) is a very common problem in emergency surgery, accounting for 20% of all surgical admissions.

  • Postoperative adhesions cause SBO in 93% of patients.

  • Postoperative SBO can be treated by early surgery, or a trial of non-operative treatment.

  • In the absence of signs of bowel ischemia and peritonitis, it is safe initially to manage postoperative SBO non-operatively.



  • Oral water soluble contrast agents have begun to be used in the non operative management of patients.

  • Several prospective studies have reported contradictory findings in terms of the therapeutic role of the oral water soluble contrast agent in the management of SBO.

  • Therefore, a prospective, randomised, controlled trial was performed to define the efficacy of an oral water soluble contrast agents in patients with postoperative SBO. The results were measured by objective criteria and compared.



  • After obtaining institutional ethics committee approval and full informed consent, 41 consecutive patients with postoperative SBO who presented to the emergency services Nehru Hospital, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India between January 2005 and December 2005, were included in the study.



  • Only cases which presented with clinical and radiological evidence were included.

  • Exclusion criteria were patients with:

    • Postoperative SBO of less than 4 weeks post surgery

    • Signs of strangulation or peritonitis

    • Terminal malignancy

    • Patients showing rapid resolution of signs of symptoms of SBO within 4 hours of hospital admission

    • History of allergy to iodinated contrast agents

    • Asthma or atrophy

    • Inflammatory bowel disease or tuberculosis

    • History of irradiation to the abdomen

    • Patient who refused to participate in the trial



  • Diagnosis of postoperative SBO was established on the basis of clinical history, examination and abdominal radiograph findings.

  • All patients were blindly randomized in two groups.

  • Group A received Gastrografin, while Group B was managed conventionally.



  • Both groups were promptly hydrated with IV fluids on the basis of pulse, BP, CVP, and urine output.

  • Serum electrolytes and acid base balance were corrected when required.

  • A nasogastric tube was placed and decompression of the stomach was done by active aspiration.

  • Presence of allergy to the iodinated contrast agent, asthma and atopy were ruled out.



Group A

Group B

Managed conventionally

No Gastrogafin® was administered.

  • Administered the oral water soluble contrast Gastrografin®

  • 60 ml of Gastrografin® was administered through a nasogastric tube in an upright position and the tube was clamped for 2-3 hours.

  • The patient was placed in a right lateral decubitusor propped up position.



  • Both groups were then closely monitored by repeated clinical examinations, erect and supine abdominal radiographs were repeated after 12 hours and then subsequently when necessary.

Indications for operation

Indications for Operation

  • Persistence of SBO for 48 hours after admission or clinical deterioration with the persistence or worsening of radiological evidence and patients showing signs and symptoms of strangulation of bowel or peritonitis during the in-hospital course.

Criteria for discharge

Criteria for Discharge

  • Patients who were free from all the obstructive symptoms and signs and who were able to tolerate a normal diet.



  • The time interval between admission and relief of obstruction, the number of days of hospital stay, and the percentage of cases requiring surgery in each group were collected from all patients.

Statistical analysis

Statistical Analysis

  • Statistical calculations were performed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 10.0 (SPSS)

  • Proportions and percentages were used to summarise categorical variables while descriptive statistics, such as the mean, were used for numerical variables.

  • The chi-square test was used to investigate the statistical significance of categorical variables while the numerical variables were compared for statistical significance using Student’s unpaired t-test.

  • Values were expressed as mean ± SD, unless otherwise specifed. A difference was considered to be statistically significant when the p-value was less than 0.05.

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