What is the role of plain radiography in the workup of colitis?

Updated: Jan 04, 2019
  • Author: David A Piccoli, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
  • Print

The diagnostic yield of plain radiography is relatively low. Nevertheless, the diagnosis of NEC can be facilitated by obtaining a plain film radiograph of the abdomen, demonstrating pneumatosis intestinalis (ie, gas accumulation in the submucosa of the bowel wall) in 50-75% of patients, gas in the portal vein in severe cases, and pneumoperitoneum in patients with perforation of the bowel.

Plain film radiography can also be useful in establishing a diagnosis of toxic megacolon, bowel obstruction, or perforation; consequently, it should be performed as an initial study.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!