Abdominal X-ray - Abnormal bowel gas pattern

Tutorial key points

  • Suspected bowel obstruction or perforation are the main indications for abdominal X-ray
  • An ERECT chest X-ray should be requested if perforation is suspected
  • The pattern of bowel dilatation may help determine an anatomical site of obstruction
  • Occasionally features of inflammatory bowel disease are demonstrated on abdominal X-rays

Related tutorials

In certain clinical settings, such as suspected bowel obstruction or perforation, assessing the bowel gas pattern on an abdominal X-ray can be very informative. Occasionally abnormalities of the bowel gas pattern relate to other abnormalities, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

This tutorial will discuss abnormal bowel gas appearances which you may come across on an abdominal X-ray.

Before starting you may find it helpful to read the tutorial on Abdominal X-ray - System and anatomy.

Page author: Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust UK (Read bio)

Last reviewed: February 2016