Background: Ultrasound (US) is a noninvasive method of assessing the bowel that can be used to screen for bowel pathology, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, in children. Knowledge about US findings of the bowel in healthy children is important for interpreting US results in cases where disease is suspected. Objective: To assess the bowel wall thickness in different bowel segments in healthy children and to assess differences in bowel wall thickness among pediatric age categories. Materials and methods: We conducted a systematic search in the PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, and CINAHL databases for studies describing bowel wall thickness measured by transabdominal US in healthy children. We excluded studies using contrast agent. We calculated the pooled mean and standard deviation scores and assessed differences among age categories (0–4 years, 5–9 years, 10–14 years, 15–18 years), first with analysis of variance (ANOVA) and further with subsequent Student’s t-tests for independent samples, corrected for multiple testing. Results: We identified 191 studies and included 7 of these studies in the systematic review. Reported bowel wall thickness values ranged from 0.8 mm to 1.9 mm in the small bowel and from 1.0 mm to 1.9 mm in the colon. The mean colonic bowel wall thickness is larger in children ages 15–19 years compared to 0–4 years (range in difference: 0.3–0.5 mm [corrected P<0.02]). Conclusion: The reported upper limit of bowel wall thickness in healthy children is 1.9 mm in the small bowel and the colon, and mean thickness increases slightly with age in jejunum and colon. These values can be used as guidance when screening for bowel-related pathology in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-508
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Radiology
Issue number4
Early online date1 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Bowel
  • Children
  • Meta-analysis
  • Normal subjects
  • Systematic review
  • Ultrasound

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