Existing Scores Fail to Predict Bowel Ischemia in Patients With Adhesive Small Bowel Obstruction

Published:November 23, 2022DOI:



      Early recognition of bowel ischemia is critical in patients suffering from acute adhesive small bowel obstruction (ASBO). Recent studies attempted to propose a score combining clinical and radiological factors to predict the risk of bowel ischemia in patients with ASBO. This study aimed to compare and validate the existing clinical scores with a cohort of surgical patients.


      We conducted a retrospective study including all ASBO cases admitted to our institution between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2019. Based on three existing clinical scores, we calculated the risk of bowel ischemia for each patient. We then divided the cohort into groups based on the risk for bowel ischemia. For each risk-based category, the proportion of patients who underwent surgical resection and were found to have evidence of ischemic bowel was calculated.


      A total of 160 patients presenting with 217 episodes of acute ASBO were included. One hundred seventy-one (78.8%) cases were managed nonoperatively while 46 cases (21.2%) required surgery. Sixteen patients (7.3%) were eventually found to have ischemic bowel while 13 required small bowel resection (5.9%). All three clinical scores showed correlation between the calculated risk of ischemia and the intraoperative finding of ischemia. However, all three scores overestimated ischemia rates in the high-risk groups, yielding a PPV of 8.3%-28.5% and a NPV of 93.3%-94.7%.


      Current clinical scores for predicting bowel ischemia in patients with ASBO are of high value in ruling out ischemia, yet are of extremely low sensitivity, warranting an overly aggressive and unnecessary surgical approach.


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