Am Surg. 2021 Nov 3:31348211050823. doi: 10.1177/00031348211050823. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: The advent of the Gastrograffin® small bowel follow through (G-SBFT) has resulted in a decreased rate of operative intervention of small bowel obstructions (SBO); however, there is no data to suggest when G-SBFT should be performed.
METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 548 patients, admitted to 1 of 9 hospitals with a diagnosis of SBO. Patients were divided into two categories with regards to timing of G-SBFT: before (early) or after (late) 48 hours from admission. Primary outcomes were length of stay (LOS) and total cost. Secondary outcomes were operative interventions and mortality.
RESULTS: Of the reviewed patients, 71% had the G-SBFT ordered early. Comparing early versus late, there were no differences in patient characteristics with regards to age, sex, or BMI. There was a significant difference between LOS (4 vs 8 days, P < 0.05) and total cost ($17,056.19 vs $33,292.00, P < 0.05). There was no difference in mortality (1.3% vs 2.6%, P = 0.239) or 30-day readmission rates (15.6% vs 15.9%, P = 0.509). Patients in the early group underwent fewer operations (20.7% vs 31.9%, P = 0.05).
DISCUSSION: Patients that had a G-SBFT ordered early had a decreased LOS, total cost, and operative intervention. This suggests there is a benefit to ordering G-SBFT earlier in the hospital stay to reduce the overall disease burden, and that it is safe to do so with regards to mortality and readmissions. We therefore recommend ordering a G-SBFT within 48 hours to reduce LOS, cost, and need for an operation.