COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Comparative Effectiveness of Imaging Modalities for the Diagnosis of Intestinal Obstruction in Neonates and Infants:: A Critically Appraised Topic

A G Carroll, R G Kavanagh, C Ni Leidhin, N M Cullinan, L P Lavelle, D E Malone
Academic Radiology 2016, 23 (5): 559-68
26857524

RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to critically appraise and compare the diagnostic performance of imaging modalities that are used for the diagnosis of upper and lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract obstruction in neonates and infants.

METHODS: A focused clinical question was constructed and the literature was searched using the patient, intervention, comparison, outcome method comparing radiography, upper GI contrast study, and ultrasound in the detection of upper GI tract obstruction such as duodenal atresia and stenosis, jejunal and ileal atresia, and malrotation and volvulus. The same methods were used to compare radiography and contrast enema in the detection of lower GI tract obstruction such as meconium plug syndrome, meconium ileus, Hirschsprung disease, and imperforate anus. Retrieved articles were appraised and assigned a level of evidence based on the Oxford University Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine hierarchy of validity for diagnostic studies.

RESULTS: There were no sensitivities/specificities available for the imaging diagnosis of duodenal atresia or stenosis, jejunal or ileal atresias, meconium plug, and meconium ileus or for the use of cross-table lateral radiography for the diagnosis of rectal pouch distance from skin in imperforate anus. The retrieved sensitivity for the detection of malrotation on upper GI contrast study is 96%, and the sensitivity for the diagnosis of midgut volvulus on upper GI contrast study is 79%. The retrieved sensitivity and specificity for the detection of malrotation with volvulus on ultrasound were 89% and 92%, respectively. The retrieved sensitivity and specificity for the detection of Hirschsprung disease on contrast enema were 70% and 83%, respectively. The retrieved sensitivity of invertogram for the diagnosis of rectal pouch distance from skin in imperforate anus is 27%. The retrieved sensitivities of perineal ultrasound and colostography for the diagnosis of rectal pouch distance from skin in imperforate anus were 86% and 100%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: There is limited evidence for the imaging diagnosis of duodenal atresia and stenosis, jejunal and ileal atresias, meconium plug, meconium ileus, and imperforate anus, with recommended practice based mainly on low-quality evidence or expert opinion. The available evidence supports the use of upper GI contrast study for the diagnosis of malrotation and volvulus, with ultrasound as an adjunct to diagnosis. Contrast enema is useful in the investigation of suspected Hirschsprung disease, but a negative study does not outrule the condition. Colostography is the investigation of choice for the work-up of infants with complex anorectal malformations before definitive surgical repair.

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