Intestinal Ultrasound

What Is Intestinal Ultrasound (IUS)?

IUS is a dedicated non-invasive sonographic assessment of the large and small bowels to look for any evidence of inflammation such as bowel wall thickening, loss of bowel wall pattern, or increased blood supply to affected areas. It involves an ultrasound probe being applied on to the abdominal wall with a systematic examination of all four quadrants of the abdomen.


IUS is used in the diagnosis, monitoring, and assessment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) activity, severity, and disease extent. It can also be used to look for complications of IBD, such as narrowings (strictures), collections, or communications between structures or the external skin (fistulae). It can also be useful in functional gut and motility disorders.


IUS is performed at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) upon a referral by your Gastroenterologist.

Why Do I Need An Intestinal Ultrasound?

An IUS may be recommended if you have experienced the following signs or symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Altered bowel habit

  • Other gastrointestinal issues without a clear cause


It may also need to be done as part of regular assessment if you have a history of:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease)

  • Functional gut disorders

How Can I Prepare for Intestinal Ultrasound?

Generally no preparation is needed for IUS. There is no need to fast or take bowel preparation.

Are There Any Risks Or Side Effects From Intestinal Ultrasound?

IUS is non-invasive, does not require an anaesthetic and is free of ionising radiation, therefore is very safe and not associated with significant risks or side effects. As it involves an ultrasound probe being placed onto the external abdominal wall, there may be some mild discomfort or sensation of pressure on the abdomen, so please inform the doctor about this during your procedure.


Please note that IUS specifically assesses the small and large bowel as well as surrounding soft tissue and lymph nodes, however it does not detail other intra-abdominal organs such as the liver, gallbladder, spleen or pancreas. Furthermore, it is important to note that in certain individuals, ultrasound visualisation may be insufficient. In these circumstances, more dedicated abdominal or alternative imaging may be necessary.

Additional Information

For more information, please speak to your responsible consultant.