The application of prenatal ultrasound in the diagnosis of congenital duodenal obstruction

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2020 Jul 3;20(1):387. doi: 10.1186/s12884-020-03078-5.


Background: The purpose of this research is to summarize the prenatal ultrasound characteristics of congenital duodenal obstruction (CDO), especially in the diagnosis of duodenal diaphragm and annular pancreas. At present, few researchers have summarized the specific ultrasound features of duodenal diaphragm and annular pancreas.

Methods: In this study, a retrospective analysis of 40 patients diagnosed with CDO between January 2016 and December 2019 was carried out. Data on the diagnosis, ultrasound images and outcomes of the patients were gathered, and the features of the patients were analyzed.

Results: The results showed that there were 17 patients (42.5%) of congenital duodenal diaphragm, all with a 'rat tail' sign on the ultrasound images. Moreover, there were 4 patients (10.0%) of CDO caused by annular pancreas, all with a 'pliers' sign on the ultrasound images. We summarized the imaging features of the 'rat tail' sign and the 'pliers' sign.

Conclusion: The main conclusion of this study was that the 'rat tail' sign could be used as an indirect ultrasound feature to diagnose duodenal diaphragm. The 'pliers' sign could be used as a direct ultrasound feature in the diagnosis of annular pancreas in CDO.

Keywords: Congenital duodenal obstruction; Prenatal ultrasound diagnosis; ‘Pliers’ sign; ‘Rat tail’ sign.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Duodenal Obstruction / congenital
  • Duodenal Obstruction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pancreas / abnormalities
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*

Supplementary concepts

  • Annular pancreas