INTRODUCTION: We investigated whether (a) the inferior vena cava (IVC) is compressed in bowel obstruction and (b) some tracts are more compressed than others. METHODS: Two groups of abdominal computed tomography (CT) examinations were collected retrospectively. Group O (N = 69) scans were positive for bowel obstruction, group C (N = 50) scans were negative for diseases. IVC anteroposterior and lateral diameters (APD, LAD) were assessed at seven levels. RESULTS: In group C, IVC section had an elliptic shape (APD/LAD: .76 ± .14), the area of which increased gradually from 1.9 (confluence of the iliac veins) to 3.1 cm²/m² of BSA (confluence of the hepatic veins) with a significant narrowing in the hepatic section. In group O, bowel obstruction caused a compression of IVC (APD/LAD: .54 ± .17). Along its course, IVC section area increased from 1.3 to 2.5 cm²/m². At ROC curve analysis, an APD/LAD ratio lower than 0.63 above the confluence of the iliac veins discriminated between O and C groups with sensitivity of 74% and specificity of 96%. CONCLUSIONS: Bowel obstruction caused a compression of IVC, which involved its entire course except for the terminal section. APD/LAD ratio may be useful to monitor the degree of compression.
- bowel obstruction
- inferior vena cava