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Dig Liver Dis. 2004 Feb;36(2):147-52.

Combined terminal ileoscopy and biopsy is superior to small bowel follow-through in detecting terminal ileal pathology.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Beaumont Hospital, Beaumont Road, Dublin 9, Ireland.



Several studies have compared small bowel barium examination with ileoscopy in assessment of terminal ileal disease. Some suggest that ileoscopy is superior in detection of terminal ileal disease whereas others suggest similar disease detection rates for both techniques.


The aim of this retrospective study was to determine if small bowel follow-through and ileoscopy with terminal ileum biopsy compare favourably at detecting pathology in the terminal ileum.


All colonoscopies with terminal ileoscopy performed over a 16-month period were reviewed. We determined which of these patients had also had small bowel follow-through studies within 2 weeks of colonoscopy. We compared the diagnoses of terminal ileum pathology using ileoscopy with terminal ileal biopsy versus small bowel follow-through.


Forty-six patients had both terminal ileoscopy with biopsy and small bowel follow-through. In 19 patients, the terminal ileum was abnormal at ileoscopy and/or biopsy but normal at small bowel follow-through. In 27 patients, terminal ileum findings at small bowel follow-through and at ileoscopy and/or biopsy were compatible.


This study suggests that examination of the terminal ileum by combined ileoscopy and biopsy may be superior to small bowel follow-through at detecting terminal ileal pathology. In our series, many patients received effective treatment that otherwise would not have been offered based on the small bowel follow-through results alone. Using combined ileoscopy and biopsy, microscopic inflammatory changes, otherwise missed without biopsy, can be detected. Retrograde ileoscopy is recommended in patients with a clinical history of organic diarrhoea and/or abdominal pain even in the presence of a normal small bowel follow-through.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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