Ileocolic intussusception is a common cause of intestinal obstruction in young children. Radiographs may be of limited value in the diagnosis of intussusception and are sometimes utilized primarily to exclude pneumoperitoneum before therapeutic enema reduction.
The goal of this study was to determine if radiographic findings in ileocolic intussusception can offer prognostic information regarding the outcome of therapeutic air enema and, for those requiring surgical intervention, surgical outcomes and/or complications.
Materials and methods
A single institution retrospective study was performed including all enemas for intussusception performed during a 5-year period from September 2012 to August 2017. Radiographs obtained before therapeutic enema, including our institution radiographs, outside facility radiographs, or scout images obtained during fluoroscopy or computed tomography (CT), were independently scored by two pediatric radiologists for normal bowel gas pattern, soft-tissue mass, paucity of bowel gas, meniscus sign and bowel obstruction. The reviewers were blinded to enema and surgical outcomes at the time of review. Differences were resolved by consensus. Cases were excluded in which there was no adequate pre-procedure radiograph. In total, 182 cases were reviewed. The medical records were reviewed for enema and surgical outcomes.
Radiographic findings included normal bowel gas pattern in 13%, soft-tissue mass in 26%, paucity of bowel gas in 65%, meniscus sign in 12% and obstruction in 10% of the cases, with 17.5% of patients having more than one finding. In patients with bowel obstruction on radiographs, there was a statistically significant decrease in success of therapeutic enema (83% vs. 21%, P=0.0001), increase in complicated surgical reductions (47% vs. 4%, P=0.0012), and increase in bowel resection (42% vs. 4%, P=0.003) compared to patients with normal bowel gas pattern.
Radiographs can offer prognostic information regarding the potential for therapeutic enema success, as well as potential surgical outcomes in patients failing enema reduction. Particularly, bowel obstruction significantly decreases the success of therapeutic enema and increases the need for bowel resection.