Etiology of small bowel thickening on computed tomography

Lee Finkelstone, Ellen Wolf, Marjorie W. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Abdominal pain is often evaluated using imaging, most often with computed tomography (CT). While CT is sensitive and specific for certain diagnoses, small bowel thickening is a nonspecific finding on CT with a broad differential diagnosis including infection, inflammation, ischemia and neoplasm. METHOD: A review of medical records of patients who underwent CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis over a one-year period and exhibited small bowel thickening were retrospectively evaluated to determine the final diagnosis. RESULTS: The etiologies of small bowel thickening on CT were as follows: infection (113 of 446 [25.34%]); reactive inflammation (69 of 446 [15.47%]); primary inflammation (62 of 446 [13.90%]); small bowel obstruction (38 of 446 [8.52%]); iatrogenic (33 of 446 [7.40%]); neoplastic (32 of 446 [7.17%]); ascites (30 of 446 [6.73%]); unknown (28 of 446 [6.28%]); ischemic (24 of 446 [5.38%]); and miscellaneous (17 of 446 [3.81%]). CONCLUSION: Infectious and inflammatory (primary or reactive) conditions were the most common cause of small bowel thickening in the present series; these data can be used to formulate a more specific differential diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-901
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Inflammatory
  • Ischemic
  • Neoplastic
  • Small bowel
  • Thickening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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