What is the role of imaging studies in the workup of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Updated: Dec 30, 2019
  • Author: Mohammad F El-Baba, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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Plain abdominal radiography is recommended for patients with pain-predominant symptoms. Perform plain abdominal radiography during a pain episode to exclude intermittent obstruction.

An upper gastrointestinal study (UGIS) with small-bowel follow through is a useful study if Crohn disease or celiac sprue is suggested.

Barium enema can be useful for patients in whom Hirschsprung disease or congenital structural anomalies of the colon are suspected. Barium enema is also indicated in older patients (>50 y) because of the increased likelihood of colonic neoplasms.

Gastric scintigraphy is indicated for selected patients to evaluate for gastroparesis.

Abdominal ultrasonography is suggested for patients in whom biliary disease is suspected. It has high sensitivity and specificity for gallstones. It can also detect gallbladder wall thickening.

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