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J Med Life. 2019 Jan-Mar;12(1):10-14. doi: 10.25122/jml-2018-0082.

Resolution of adhesive small bowel obstruction with a protocol based on Gastrografin administration.

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Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk, England.


The use of Gastrografin may have a therapeutic effect on resolving adhesive small bowel obstruction. Adhesive Small Bowel obstruction (ASBO) accounts for the majority of patients with small bowel obstruction. Most patients are managed conservatively; frequent admissions create a considerable burden. We sought to examine the adherence to the Bologna guidelines for the management of ASBO in a high volume tertiary center and whether or not Gastrografin had a therapeutic effect. A comparison was made between an initial retrospective audit looking at ASBO and a prospective re-audit after applying standards derived from the Bologna guidelines. During re-audit it was found that more patients underwent conservative management and fewer patients had surgery as first line management. In the re-audit, those who had to undergo surgery within/after a period of 72h of conservative management were also fewer. Whether they were managed surgically primarily or after a period of conservative management, the average length of stay was also shorter. In comparison to the preliminary audit, there appeared to be no change in the way that medical history and physical examination was documented during the re-audit. However, there was a marked difference in the use of appropriate blood tests and CT scans. Changes were made successfully following the initial audit results and have been implemented, thus closing the audit loop. This study shows that the use of Gastrografin has decreased the need for surgical intervention in a group of patients with small bowel obstruction.


Gastrografin; adhesive; bowel; obstruction

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