Accuracy of ultrasonography for the diagnosis of intussusception in infants in Vietnam

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Intussusception (IS) is the most common cause of acute bowel obstruction in infants and young children. Ultrasonography is being increasingly used as the primary investigation for the diagnosis of IS and to guide air or hydrostatic enema reduction. However the accuracy of ultrasonography outside tertiary care settings in developed countries has not been assessed, particularly in Asia where the incidence of IS based on sonographic diagnosis has been reported as the highest in the world.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of acute IS in infants less than 2 years of age in a paediatric hospital in Vietnam.

Materials and methods

A prospective study was conducted at the National Hospital for Paediatrics, Hanoi, Vietnam, over a 14-month period recruiting patients <2 years of age with IS. Abdominal ultrasonography was performed on each patient and the accuracy of the diagnosis was evaluated against the final diagnosis provided by air enema and/or surgery.


A total of 640 infants <2 years of age presented with clinical symptoms and signs of IS. The diagnosis was confirmed in 533 patients via air enema or surgery. Abdominal ultrasonography was 97.5% (466/478) sensitive and 99% (106/107) specific in the detection of IS.


Ultrasonography is an accurate, safe and valuable clinical tool in the diagnosis of IS. The use of ultrasonography as a primary investigation for patients with suspected IS prevents unnecessary radiological or surgical procedures being performed, and reduces radiation exposure while maintaining a high level of diagnostic accuracy. These results validate the use of ultrasonography for the diagnosis of IS in a developing country setting.

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