Large bowel obstruction may present as an emergency as high-grade colonic obstruction and can result in perforation. Perforated large bowel obstruction causes faecal peritonitis, which can result in high morbidity and mortality. Multidetector row computed tomography (MDCT) has the potential of providing an accurate diagnosis of large bowel obstruction. The rapid acquisition of images within one breath-hold reduces misregistration artefacts than can occur in critically ill or uncooperative patients. The following is a review of the various causes of large bowel obstruction with emphasis on important pathogenic factors, CT appearances and the use of multiplanar reformatted images in the diagnostic workup.
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