Small Bowel Neoplasms: Evaluation with CT

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Tumors of the small intestine are uncommon; they account for only 2% to 6% of gastrointestinal neoplasms. Computed tomography (CT) can play a significant role in both the detection and charaterization of these lesions. The clinical presentation of small bowel neoplamss include complaints of weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, or an abdominal mass. CT may be requested as the iniital radiologic screening examination for patients with these nonspecific complaints; therefore, it is important for radiologists to be familiar with the CT findings of small bowel neoplasms. CT should be considered complementary to conventioanl barium examinations and endoscopy. Althuogh the latter techniques have proven reliable in identifying intraluminal and muscosal tumors. CT is superior for delineating submucosal, intramural, and exophyti tumor extension. Extraintestinal spread of tumor to adjacent structures, mesentery, peritoneum, reroperitoneum, and solid organs is also best demonstrated with CT. In some cases, the CT characteristics of the primary tumor mass and ancillary disease are suggestive of specific tumor types, and proper treatment can begin without the need for further studies.

The purpose of this lesson is to outline theCT findings of the various msll bowel tumors and to emphasize specifically those CT characteristics that may help the radiologist to make a specific diagnosis of tumor type.

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