Drost WT, Green EM, Zekas LJ, et al.
Vomiting, often caused by mechanical intestinal obstruction, is common in dogs. Equivocal radiographic signs often necessitate repeat radiographs or additional imaging procedures. For our prospective, case-controlled, accuracy study, we hypothesized the following: (1) using computed tomography (CT), radiologists will be more sensitive and specific for detecting mechanical intestinal obstruction and recommending surgery compared to using radiographs; and (2) using measurements, radiologists will be more sensitive and specific using radiographs or CT for detecting mechanical intestinal obstruction and recommending surgery. Twenty dogs had abdominal radiographs and abdominal CT. Seventeen dogs had abdominal surgery and three dogs were not obstructed based on clinical follow-up. Confidence levels (five-point scale) of three experienced radiologists for mechanical intestinal obstruction and recommending surgery were recorded before and after making selected measurements. Eight dogs had surgically confirmed mechanical intestinal obstruction, and 12 dogs did not have obstruction. For detecting mechanical intestinal obstruction, CT was more sensitive (95.8% vs. 79.2%) and specific (80.6% vs. 69.4%) compared to radiographs, but the difference was not statistically significant. For recommending surgery, radiography was more sensitive (91.7% vs. 83.3%) and specific (83.3% vs. 72.2%) than using CT, but differences were not statistically significant. We reported objective CT measurements for predicting small mechanical intestinal obstruction. By incorporating these objective data, the diagnosis of mechanical intestinal obstruction changed in five of 120 instances (radiographs and CT). In no instance (0/120), did the objective data change the recommendation for surgery. Using CT or abdominal radiographs for the detection of canine mechanical intestinal obstruction is sensitive and specific when evaluated by experienced veterinary radiologists.