What are the limitations of radiography in the evaluation of intussusception?

Updated: Dec 20, 2018
  • Author: A Alfred Chahine, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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Morrison et al concluded that, when interpreted by pediatric emergency physicians, abdominal radiographs have a low sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing intussusception. [19] In a prospective experimental study, 14 pediatric emergency physicians interpreted radiographs of 50 cases of intussusception and 50 matched controls; these interpretations showed a sensitivity of 48% and a specificity of 21%. In 11% of cases, the abdominal radiographs were incorrectly interpreted as reassuring.

A study by Tareen et al concluded that abdominal radiography is not recommended for the diagnosis of intussusception in children, for the prediction of the outcome of pneumatic reduction of intussusception or for the detection of occult pneumoperitoneum. The study further noted that abdominal radiography should always be performed when clinical peritonism is present but is not otherwise necessary. [21]

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