Diagnostic performance of triple-contrast versus single-contrast multi-detector computed tomography for the evaluation of penetrating bowel injury

Fabio M. Paes, Anthony M. Durso, Denver S. Pinto, Brian Covello, Douglas S. Katz, Felipe Munera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Selecting groups of low-risk penetrating trauma patients to forego laparotomy can be challenging. The presence of bowel injury may prevent non-operative management. Optimal CT technique to detect bowel injury related to penetrating injury is controversial. Our goal is to compare the diagnostic performance of triple-contrast (oral, rectal, and IV) against IV contrast-only CT, for the detection of bowel injury from penetrating abdominopelvic trauma, using surgical diagnosis as the reference standard. Methods: Nine hundred ninety-seven patients who underwent CT for penetrating torso trauma at a single institution between 2009 and 2016 in our HIPPA-compliant and institutional review board-approved retrospective cohort study. A total of 143 patients, including 15 females and 123 males underwent a pre-operative CT, followed by exploratory laparotomy. Of these, 56 patients received triple-contrast CT. CT examinations were independently reviewed by two radiologists, blinded to surgical outcome and clinical presentation. Results were stratified by contrast type and injury mechanism and were compared based upon diagnostic performance indicators of sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value, and positive predictive value. Area under the receiving operating characteristics curves were analyzed for determination of diagnostic accuracy. Results: Bowel injury was present in 45 out of 143 patients (10 on triple-contrast group and 35 on IV contrast-only group). Specificity and accuracy were higher with triple-contrast CT (98% specific, 97–99% accurate) compared to IV contrast-only CT (66% specific, 78–79% accurate). Sensitivity was highest with IV contrast-only CT (91% sensitive) compared with triple-contrast CT (75% sensitive), although this difference was not statistically significant. Triple-contrast technique increased diagnostic accuracy for both radiologists regardless of mechanism of injury. Conclusion: In our retrospective single-institution cohort study, triple-contrast MDCT had greater accuracy, specificity, and positive predictive values when compared to IV contrast-only CT in evaluating for bowel injury from penetrating wounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEmergency Radiology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Bowel
  • Contrast
  • CT
  • Injury
  • Penetrating
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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