Hydrocolonic sonography for evaluating inflammatory bowel disease

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2001 Jul;177(1):99-105. doi: 10.2214/ajr.177.1.1770099.


Objective: The purpose of our study was to compare the usefulness of hydrocolonic sonography and (99m)Tc-hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime (HMPAO)--labeled leukocyte scintigraphy in the examination of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, using precise sonographic criteria of bowel involvement.

Subjects and methods: Sixty-eight consecutive patients with active inflammatory bowel disease (34 ulcerative colitis and 34 Crohn's disease), 12 with inactive inflammatory bowel disease, and 10 control subjects were prospectively studied. Patients with active disease underwent clinical assessment, hydrocolonic sonography, scintigraphy, and colonoscopy within 72 hr, whereas patients with inactive disease and control subjects underwent clinical examination and hydrocolonic sonography.

Results: Involvement of a colonic segment by active inflammatory bowel disease was best defined by mucosal thickness greater than 1.5 mm, bowel wall thickness greater than 4 mm, mucosal irregularity, or the absence of haustra; and involvement of the terminal ileum by bowel wall thickness greater than 4 mm. Using these criteria, hydrocolonic sonography had 100% sensitivity for identifying patients with active inflammatory bowel disease and a greater overall accuracy (87%) than scintigraphy (77%) in the assessment of disease extension. In addition, strong correlation was shown between a hydrocolonic sonography activity index and clinical and endoscopic activity indexes.

Conclusion: This prospective study provides precise sonographic criteria for the definition of bowel involvement by active inflammatory bowel disease. Hydrocolonic sonography has a greater accuracy than scintigraphy for assessing disease extension and activity. Therefore, hydrocolonic sonography should be considered a first-choice technique to complete the study of inflammatory bowel disease after confirmation of the diagnosis by histology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / diagnostic imaging*
  • Crohn Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Exametazime
  • Ultrasonography / methods


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Exametazime