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About Inflammatory Bowel Disease dedicated Ultrasound

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Ultrasound

IBD ultrasound is done simply with the patient comfortably on a bed with their shirt pulled up to their chest. The ultrasound probe placed on the exterior of the abdomen with ultrasound jelly and moved around to scan the large and small bowel in "real time".

There is no radiation, no bowel preparation, or any harmful contrast dyes necessary. There is also no tight spaces to cause any claustrophobia.

Trans-Abdominal Gastrointestinal Ultrasound (TAG-US) 

 Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis, are chronic conditions that often start at a young age and requires monitoring and adjustments to medications to control disease activity, symptoms and to prevent negative consequences.

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Diagnosis and management involve repeated colonoscopies (anaesthetic and procedural risks) and radiological investigations such as CT (up to 1/1000 risk of cancer per abdominal scan) and MRI (contrast agents may deposit in the brain) over the life span of the patient, which can have cumulative risks. The chronicity of the disease also has significant impact on the patient, healthcare system and society with Crohn’s & Colitis Australia having measured a loss of $2.7 Billion/year in financial and economic costs. 

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Medical ultrasound has been used for over 75 years in various medical specialities. Yet, it has become a consideration for IBD investigations only more recently and is greatly underutilised worldwide.

Intestinal ultrasound has multiple favourable aspects in that it provides real-time imaging, allows for patient feedback and targeted assessment, does not have harmful radiation or the risk of radiation induced cancers, does not require nephrotoxic contrast agents, is easily accessible and is cheaper to the medical system.

Thus, in a patient that will require repeated investigations over multiple decades, with additive risks of procedures and imaging related radiation, it is more appropriate to use ultrasound.  However, intestinal ultrasound is not widely used or taught and is a developing skill in the aim of improving quality of care to patients with IBD..