Successful Non-Operative Management of Adhesive Small Bowel Obstruction: Is it Really a Success?

W. T.Hillman Terzian, Rachel D. Appelbaum, Ashley Raposo-Hadley, Ingrid Lorese D. Tablazon, Lindsay A.N. Duy, Michael Y. Chen, Raymond B. Dyer, Preston R. Miller, Nathan T. Mowery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In adhesive small bowel obstructions (ASBOs), literature has shown that passage of a water-soluble contrast challenge at either 8 hours or 24 hours is predictive of successful non-operative management (NOM) for an ASBO, but the long-term outcomes between these two groups are unknown. We hypothesized that patients who require longer transit times to the colon have a higher one-year recidivism of ASBO. Methods: This was a 4-year review of patients with presumed ASBO undergoing successful NOM. Those requiring operation or those with an SBO due to something other than adhesions were excluded. Patients were divided into two groups (8 hour and 24 hour) based on when contrast reached their right colon. Patients were followed for one year to determine ASBO recurrence. Results: 137 patients underwent NOM; 112 in the 8-hour group and 25 in the 24-hour group. One-year recurrence rate was 21.4% in the 8-hour group and 40% in the 24-hour group (P = 0.05). The median time to recurrence was 113 days in the 8-hour group and 13 days in the 24-hour group (P = 0.02). Of those who recurred in the 24-hour group, 60% recurred within 30 days (P = 0.01). On univariable analysis, first-time ASBO and 24-hour transit time were risk factors for recurrence. Conclusions: Adhesive small bowel obstruction patients undergoing NOM in the 24-hour group had a recurrence rate nearly twice that of patients in the 8-hour group and may benefit from an operative exploration during the index hospitalization at the 8-hour mark of a water-soluble contrast challenge, especially if experiencing a first-time ASBO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Surgeon
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • acute care surgery
  • adhesions
  • Gastrografin water-soluble contrast challenge
  • general surgery
  • small bowel obstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Successful Non-Operative Management of Adhesive Small Bowel Obstruction: Is it Really a Success?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this