Experience and a Certain Amount of Time Are Required
Abdominal complaints of unclear etiology pose a great challenge in the care of both inpatients and outpatients, not only medically but also financially. Swift diagnosis of the underlying pathology is equally important to patients and the healthcare system.
The diagnostic power of ultrasound imaging of the gastrointestinal tract has significantly increased in recent years, thanks to improvements in the technology. Unlike a paper on a disease pattern, in routine clinical practice diagnosis comes at the end of a process, not the beginning; ultrasound can make a substantial contribution to this process and often provides prompt findings that indicate the direction treatment should take (1).
For example, incarcerated external hernias are not always detected on clinical examination. Ultrasound can be used to evaluate the fullness and motility of the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine accurately (2). In many cases in which ileus is clinically suspected, it can be ruled out using ultrasound; this has a major effect on the course of the patient’s treatment. In addition, ultrasound examination often reveals important evidence for differential diagnoses such as coprostasis. As a rule, ultrasound can accurately determine the diameter of intestinal segments and the thickness of the intestinal wall. It is therefore suitable for monitoring various pathologies.
Ultrasound examination of the gastrointestinal tract requires experience and a certain amount of time but can provide reliable findings and contribute to radiation hygiene. This article and the cited reference from 1999 reflect its value is to only a limited extent (3). It is worth familiarizing oneself with ultrasound diagnostics for the gastrointestinal tract in more detail.
Dr. med. Michael Gläser
Innere Medizin 1, Zentrale Sonographie
Klinikum Mutterhaus der Borromäerinnen Standort Mitte, Trier
Conflict of interest statement
The author declares that no conflict of interest exists.
|1.||Schuler A, Karbe T, Vasilakis D, et al.: Primär Ultraschall als Bildgebung in der Notaufnahme. Endergebnisse der PRIMUS-Studie (DEGUM Multicenter-Studie). Ultraschall in Med 2012; 33: 901 CrossRef|
|2.||Hollerweger A, Wüstner M, Dirks K: Bowel obstruction: sonographic evaluation. Ultraschall in Med 2015; 36: 216–38 CrossRef MEDLINE|
|3.||Vilz TO, Stoffels B, Straßburg C, Schild HH, Kalff JC: Ileus in adults—pathogenesis, investigation and treatment. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2017; 114: 508–18 VOLLTEXT|