Background Lower gastrointestinal bleeding is a frequent cause of hospitalization, but diagnostic methods for this condition are not fully established. Transabdominal ultrasound is a widely accepted diagnostic tool in bowel diseases.
Aim To evaluate the usefulness of transabdominal ultrasound for lower gastrointestinal bleeding.
Methods We reviewed the medical records of consecutive patients who underwent transabdominal ultrasound as the first diagnostic procedure for acute haematochezia during the period June 1999 to June 2004. The study group comprised 111 patients and all underwent colonoscopy thereafter. Detection and diagnosis of lower gastrointestinal bleeding by ultrasonographic examination were evaluated by comparing the ultrasound diagnosis with the colonoscopic findings and final diagnosis.
Results The bleeding site was localized by colonoscopy in 90 of the 111 patients (81%). The bleeding site was localized by ultrasound in 59 of the 90 patients (66%). When the bleeding site was in the rectum, ultrasonographic detectability was 30% (10/33); ultrasonographic detectability was 82–100% when the bleeding site was elsewhere. Rectal bleeding and diverticular bleeding were difficult to diagnose by ultrasound, but for the other diseases, diagnosis by ultrasonographic examination was possible in 91–100% of cases.
Conclusions Ultrasonographic examination may be an effective screening method for lower gastrointestinal bleeding.