Hydrosonography of the small intestine: comparison with radiologic barium study

Scand J Gastroenterol. 1999 Dec;34(12):1247-52. doi: 10.1080/003655299750024788.


Background: Transabdominal ultrasonography of the small intestine is hampered by luminal gas. We have developed a new sonographic method (hydrosonography) that largely eliminates the gas problem and have compared this method with radiologic barium study.

Methods: Fifty-six patients admitted for X-ray examination of the small bowel because of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss and/or known inflammatory bowel disease were examined. To remove luminal gas before performing transabdominal ultrasonography, 21 of polyethylene glycol solution was inserted through a nasojejunal tube by means of a peristaltic pump. Wall thickness, peristalsis, luminal narrowing, prestenotic dilatation, and extraintestinal complications were recorded.

Results: On ultrasonography we were able to visualize the terminal part of the ileum in 98% of the patients. Perfect agreement between hydrosonography and barium studies was seen in 50 of 55 patients. However, 44 patients had normal findings on both examinations. The sensitivity and specificity of hydrosonography were 64% and 100%, respectively. The positive predictive value was 100%. For X-ray examination sensitivity and specificity were 91% and 100%, respectively. Four patients with minor mucosal abnormalities or pathologic findings in the upper part of the small intestine accounted for the relatively low overall sensitivity found for hydrosonography compared with roentgenography. However, important extraintestinal complications were disclosed by ultrasound.

Conclusions: Hydrosonography of the small bowel is a new, convenient, and reliable method for examining the lower part of the small intestine. However, it cannot replace barium studies in patients with mucosal abnormalities. especially in the upper part of the small bowel.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Barium Sulfate
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Intestine, Small / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Ultrasonography / methods


  • Barium Sulfate