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Small bowel obstruction and the gastrografin challenge

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The “gastrografin challenge” has been used for decades in the evaluation of small bowel obstruction (SBO). This type of study involves enteric administration of a water-soluble contrast followed by serial abdominal radiographs. While its diagnostic role is well established, its therapeutic role remains controversial. Following an algorithm for gastrografin challenge cases can help with interpretation. An understanding of the appearance of diluted contrast in the small bowel, the concentrating effect of contrast in the colon, and knowledge of surgical history and anatomy is paramount for diagnosis. In this article, we review the approach to acute SBO and the use of gastrografin along with reviewing image interpretation of cases of partial and complete SBO. Gastrografin use in adynamic ileus along with other potential future uses is also discussed.

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Correspondence to Robert D’Agostino.

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D’Agostino, R., Ali, N.S., Leshchinskiy, S. et al. Small bowel obstruction and the gastrografin challenge. Abdom Radiol 43, 2945–2954 (2018).

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