A Role for Gastric Point of Care Ultrasound in Postoperative Delayed Gastrointestinal Functioning.

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This is the accepted manuscript version from the journal Journal of Surgical Research, 2022 Mar 24;276:92-99.

The final published version of the article can be found on the journal's website: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2022.02.028


INTRODUCTION: Delayed bowel function (DBF) and postoperative ileus (POI) are common gastrointestinal complications after surgery. There is no reliable imaging study to help diagnose these complications, forcing clinicians to rely solely on patient history and physical exam. Gastric point of care ultrasound (POCUS) is a simple bedside imaging technique to evaluate gastric contents but has not been evaluated in postoperative patients.

METHODS: Twenty colorectal patients were enrolled in this pilot study. Patients were categorized as either full or empty stomach based upon their postoperative day one gastric POCUS exams and previously published definitions. The primary outcome was GI-3 recovery, a dual end point defined as tolerance of solid food and either flatus or bowel movement. Secondary outcomes were length of stay, emesis, time to first flatus, time to first bowel movement, nasogastric tube placement, aspiration events, and mortality.

RESULTS: Nine of 20 patients had a full stomach postoperatively. Patients with full stomachs were younger and received greater perioperative opioid doses (74.0 ± 28.2 v 42.6 ± 32.9 morphine equivalents, P = 0.0363) compared to empty stomach patients. GI-3 recovery occurred significantly later for patients with postoperative day 1 full stomachs (2.1 ± 0.4 versus 1 ± 0 days, P = 0.00091).

CONCLUSIONS: Based upon this pilot study, gastric POCUS may hold promise as a noninvasive and simple bedside modality to potentially help identify colorectal patients at risk for postoperative DBF and POI and should be evaluated in a larger study.

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