Acute intestinal ischemia is an abdominal emergency occurring in nearly 1% of patients presenting with acute abdomen. The causes can be occlusive or non occlusive. Early diagnosis is important to improve survival rates. In most cases of late or missed diagnosis, the mortality rate from intestinal infarction is very high, with a reported value ranging from 60% to 90%. Multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) is a fundamental imaging technique that must be promptly performed in all patients with suspected bowel ischemia. Thanks to the new dedicated reconstruction program, its diagnostic potential is much improved compared to the past and currently it is superior to that of any other noninvasive technique. The increased spatial and temporal resolution, high-quality multi-planar reconstructions, maximum intensity projections, vessel probe, surface-shaded volume rending and tissue transition projections make MDCT the gold standard for the diagnosis of intestinal ischemia, with reported sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of 64%-93%, 92%-100%, 90%-100% and 94%-98%, respectively. MDCT contributes to appropriate treatment planning and provides important prognostic information thanks to its ability to define the nature and extent of the disease. The purpose of this review is to examine the diagnostic and prognostic role of MDCT in bowel ischemia with special regard to the state of art new reconstruction software.
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