Conference Coverage

Gastrografin offers an alternative to surgery for SBO


Key clinical point: Gastrografin is an effective alternative to operative exploration in small bowel obstruction patients with or without a history of surgical intervention.

Major finding: Treatment with Gastrografin (Bracco Diagnostics) reduced the risk of operative exploration for patients with small bowel obstruction (OR = .14, P less than .01).

Data source: Prospective, observational study of 601 small bowel obstruction patients seen at 14 institutions between February 2015 and December 2016.

Disclosures: The investigators reported no relevant financial disclosures.

Source: Collom et al. EAST Scientific Assembly, abstract 24.



– Gastrografin significantly decreased the need for an operation in small bowel obstruction (SBO) patients, even among patients who had never undergone abdominal surgery, according to a study presented at the annual scientific assembly of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma.

“Small bowel obstruction is a common clinical problem in the United States, with 15 out of 100 admissions for abdominal pain related to SBO,” said Morgan Collom, DO, surgical resident at Medical City Fort Worth (Tex.). “Many studies conclude that [operative exploration] is not needed and it is feasible to perform nonoperative conservative management, yet still argue that small obstruction in a virgin abdomen patient should undergo mandatory exploration to avoid missing a diagnosis of malignancy.”

Investigators studied 601 SBO patients admitted to one of 14 institutions included in an EAST database between February 2015 and December 2016 for this prospective study.

Of those included, 500 had previous abdominal surgery and the others had never had surgery. Gastrografin (Bracco Diagnostics) was used to treat their bowel obstruction.

Those with previous abdominal surgery were more likely to be over age 65 years (48% vs. 36%), be female (50% vs. 25%), have a history of cancer (42.6% vs. 18.8%), and have a prior admission of SBO (41.2% vs 8.9%), according to Dr. Collom.

Among patients who previously had surgery, operative exploration was 50% less likely (odds ratio = .51, P = .04) than among those who had never had surgery. In a comparison of patients with and without previous surgery, introducing Gastrografin evened out the likelihood for an operation (OR = .17 and .21, respectively). Overall, those who received Gastrografin were 86% less likely to undergo bowel exploration(OR = .14, P less than .01).

Of the 36 NAS patients treated with Gastrografin, 33 underwent successful, nonoperative therapy, and 3 underwent a therapeutic laparotomy for a malignancy.

During a question-and-answer session, audience members called to attention the issue of the database used, which does not review complications or recurrences after 30 days or any missed abnormalities, indicating that some malignancies may have developed after the therapy.

Dr. Collom acknowledged the limitation and agreed that the next study would need to address this.

The investigators reported no relevant financial disclosures.

SOURCE: EAST Scientific Assembly abstract No. 24.

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