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Surgery. 1994 Apr;115(4):433-7.

Therapeutic effect of oral Gastrografin in adhesive, partial small-bowel obstruction: a prospective randomized trial.

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Department of Surgery B, Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.



Previous published clinical observations claim that Gastrografin, a hyperosmolar gastrointestinal water-soluble contrast agent, speeds the resolution of postoperative ileus, barium impaction ileus, adhesive small-bowel obstruction, and intestinal obstruction caused by parasites and bezoars. However, no objective data exist that support the therapeutic effects of Gastrografin in these situations.


A total of 107 episodes of adhesive, partial small-bowel obstruction in 99 patients were randomized into a control group (48 episodes), who were treated with conventional methods, and a trial group (59 episodes), who were treated with 100 ml of Gastrografin administered through the nasogastric tube. The following variables were examined: time to resolution of partial small-bowel obstruction, the need for operation, complications, and hospital stay.


Mean timing of the first stool was 23.3 hours in the control group and 6.2 hours in the patients receiving Gastrografin (p < 0.00001). Ten obstructive episodes (21%) in the control group required operative treatment compared with six (10%) in the trial group (p = 0.12). Mean hospital stay for the patients who responded to conservative treatment was 4.4 days and 2.2 days in the control and trial groups, respectively (p < 0.00001). One patient in each group died after operation. No Gastrografin-related complications were observed.


Orally administered Gastrografin is safe and has a therapeutic role in adhesive, partial small-bowel obstruction. It significantly prompts the resolution of the obstructive episodes and shortens hospital stay. However, further studies are necessary to confirm the significance of our observation that it may reduce the need for operation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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