Effect of adding a capsule with activated charcoal to abdominal ultrasound preparation on image quality

Ahmed Abdul Jabar1, Ibrahim Abbas2, Nabeel Mishah3, Mohammed Wazan1, Motaen Tomehy4

Affiliation and address for correspondence
J Ultrason 2020; 20: e12–e17
DOI: 10.15557/JoU.2020.0003
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Background: Patient preparation for routine abdominal ultrasound, such as fasting for 8 hours and having a light meal the night before the examination, is a common practice employed to avoid digestive motility and gases, which are considered the main causes of artifacts and image quality degradation. Importance of this study: Patient preparation before abdominal ultrasound plays a major role to ensure better visualization of internal organs and pathologies by minimizing artifacts, but because abdominal gases are still present in many patients and in large amounts, causing artifacts, it is important to search for new, safe, efficient, reliable and cost-effective methods to improve patient preparation by eliminating excessive abdominal gases. Material and method: This was a prospective study involving a randomly selected sample of 52 adult patients, both men and women, of different age groups. The participants met the inclusion criteria and had no history of previous or current abdominal surgery. Pediatric patients, pregnant women, patients with a history of abdominal surgery, bedridden patients, and patients with bowel obstruction were excluded. Routine abdominal ultrasound was performed after usual patient preparation involving fasting for 8 hours. Subsequently, the same patients were asked to come again after 48 hours for rescanning and were instructed to follow the same routine preparation and to take one capsule of activated charcoal 8 hours before re-scanning. The results of both scans were compared by focusing on the pancreas as the reference. Result: Significant improvement by 57.2% was noticed in overweight, obese and extremely obese patients. The improvement noted in underweight patients and in patients with normal weight was 39.05%. The improvement in males reached 66.9% while in females: 49.9%. The overall improvement in pancreas visualization was 63%. Conclusion: Our preliminary study concluded that activated charcoal can be used to reduce gastrointestinal gases efficiently, providing an inexpensive, safe and easy-to-use method to improve visualization in routine abdominal ultrasound scans in adults.

pancreas, activated charcoal, improvement