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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 4, Issue 7, Pages 347-349
IDB: Diagnosis

Management of Severe Attacks of Ulcerative Colitis with New Technologies

M Campieri, P Gionchetti, A Belluzzi, M Tampieri, C Brignola, E Bertinelli, V Arienti, P Iannone, M Miglioli, and L Barbara

lstituto di Clinica Medica e Gastroenterologia, Universita di Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Copyright © 1990 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Barium enema and colonoscopy are contraindicated in severe attacks of ulcerative colitis because of the possibility of toxic megacolon and perforation. The authors have assessed abdominal ultrasound in 38 patients with severe ulcerative colitis. Ultrasound revealed bowel wall thicknesses ranging from 3.9 to 9.2 mm (mean 7.7) extending the whole length of the colon, to the transverse colon, and to the descending colon, respectively, in 18, 10 and eight patients. The degree of bowel thickening was related to the severity of inflammation based on clinical, sigmoidoscopic and histological evaluation. In two patients, ultrasound showed a thin bowel wall distended without motility, suggesting the diagnosis of toxic megacolon (confirmed radiologically). An excellent correlation (95%) was found between ultrasound and technetium-99 scanning. Ultrasound might be a reasonable first investigation in the assessment of patients with severe ulcerative colitis.