So I am Getting a CT for Small Bowel Obstruction, Do I Need Oral Contrast? IV Contrast?

  • Cameron GettelEmail author
  • Catherine Cummings


The diagnosis of small bowel obstruction (SBO) by abdominal computed tomography previously often included both intravenous and oral contrast agents. Recent guidelines suggest that oral contrast agents (gastrografin, barium) are unnecessary, as they significantly delay diagnosis, falsely enhance adjacent bowel wall, and do not provide benefit over air and secreted fluids already in the bowel lumen. The administration of intravenous contrast in suspected SBO is beneficial and allows the provider to assess for bowel wall ischemia.


Small bowel obstruction CT Oral contrast Intravenous contrast 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Emergency MedicineAlpert Medical School of Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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