Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor-induced small-bowel angioedema: clinical and imaging findings in 20 patients

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011 Aug;197(2):393-8. doi: 10.2214/AJR.10.4451.


Objective: The purpose of this article is to retrospectively review the radiologic and clinical findings in patients with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI)-induced small-bowel angioedema, with an emphasis on CT findings.

Materials and methods: Imaging findings, with an emphasis on CT, and clinical characteristics of 20 patients (23 presentations) presenting to two institutions' emergency departments from 1996 through 2010 with ACEI-induced small-bowel angioedema were retrospectively reviewed by two abdominal radiologists who were aware of the diagnosis. Examinations were reviewed in consensus to determine common radiographic findings.

Results: Patient age range was 23-83 years (mean, 56 years). Sixteen of the 20 patients were women, and 15 of 20 were obese. All had acute onset of severe abdominal pain. The date of the initial episode prompting CT evaluation ranged from 2 days to 10 years after the start of ACEI therapy (average, 3.3 years). All patients underwent abdominal CT examinations while symptomatic; five patients also underwent a small-bowel series. Three patients underwent urgent surgery for presumed small-bowel ischemia. All patients had resolution of symptoms within 4 days of hospitalization. CT findings included ascites in all patients, small-bowel wall thickening (mean, 1.3 cm), mild dilatation (mean, 2.9 cm), and straightening. There was no small-bowel obstruction.

Conclusion: ACEI-induced small-bowel angioedema should be included in the differential diagnosis when patients receiving ACEI therapy present with abdominal complaints and the following combination of findings on CT examination: ascites, small-bowel wall thickening, dilatation without obstruction, and straightening.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angioedema / chemically induced*
  • Angioedema / diagnostic imaging*
  • Angioedema / surgery
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Contrast Media
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Contrast Media