GI Radiology > Small Bowel > Anatomy > Pattern Analysis


Radiographic Pattern Analysis

  • There are only a few visible responses that intestines can make to large number of diseases and insults. Thus, only a few radiographic features can be analyzed on imaging studies. Radiographic features often define processes, not specific diseases, so the goal of radiologist should be to detect, describe, and diagnose abnormalities using radiographic pattern analysis. Also, because findings are often nonspecific, specific diagnoses are rarely made in a radiological vacuum.


  • Patterns that should be assessed when evaluating the small bowel include the location of the abnormality, the caliber of the lumen, the mucosal contour, and the fold pattern. Are masses or nodules present? If so, how many? What do they look like?
  • In fluoroscopy studies, the character and transit time of the contrast material should also be evaluated. Note that a normal barium transit time through the small bowel is 30 min. – 3 hrs.  For example, rapid transit or dilution of barium suggests a hypersecretory state.
  • The upcoming pages will show how pattern analysis can tailor differential diagnoses.

Examples small bowel patterns.

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