Published online Apr 28, 2017. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i16.2832
Peer-review started: October 8, 2016
First decision: December 29, 2016
Revised: January 27, 2017
Accepted: March 30, 2017
Article in press: March 30, 2017
Published online: April 28, 2017
Over the recent years the non-invasive techniques for the evaluation of the small bowel have been playing a major role in the management of chronic intestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The diagnostic performances of magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography and ultrasound in the field of small bowel disorders, have been assessed and established for more than two decades. Newer sonographic techniques, such as strain elastography and shear wave elastography, have been put forward for the assessment of disease activity and characterization of IBD-related damage in the setting of Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal disorders. The data from the preliminary research and clinical studies have shown promising results as regards the ability of elastographic techniques to differentiate inflammatory from fibrotic tissue. The distinction between IBD activity (inflammation) and IBD-related damage (fibrosis) is currently considered crucial for the assessment and management of patients. Moreover, all the elastographic techniques are currently being considered in the setting of other intestinal disorders (e.g., rectal tumors, appendicitis). The aim of this paper is to offer both a comprehensive narrative review of the non-invasive techniques available for the assessment of small-bowel disorders, with particular emphasis on inflammatory bowel diseases, and a summary of the current evidence on the use of elastographic techniques in this setting.
Core tip: Elastographic techniques, such as strain elastography and shear wave elastography, have shown promising results as regards their ability to differentiate inflammatory from fibrotic tissue, particularly in the setting of inflammatory bowel diseases where these techniques have been tested.