Toxic megacolon

Toxic megacolon

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Toxic megacolon is defined as distention of the large intestines that develops within a few days and can be dangerous. Generally, it is a usual issue if an individual has inflammatory bowel condition.

It is important to note that certain conditions can result to the dysfunction of the large intestine.

What are the causes?

One cause of toxic megacolon is any form inflammatory bowel ailments. These diseases result to irritation and swelling in the regions of the GI tract. The conditions can be painful and result to lasting damage to the small and large intestines. Certain infections specifically Clostridium difficile colitis can also cause toxic megacolon.

The condition develops once the inflammatory bowel condition cause the colon to enlarge, widen and inflate. Once this occurs, the colon could not get rid of gas or feces from the body. If both build up in the colon, the large intestine will later rupture.

Once the colon ruptures, it is life-threatening. The bacteria normally present in the intestine is released into the abdomen. This can result to a serious infection and even death.

What are the signs?

Once toxic megacolon develops, the large intestines quickly expand. The signs of the condition might arise abruptly such as:

  • Fever
    Toxic megacolon
    Certain infections specifically Clostridium difficile colitis can also cause toxic megacolon.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tenderness of the stomach
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Shock
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Blood-streaked or profuse diarrhea
  • Painful bowel movements

As a life-threatening condition, it is vital to seek medical care once any of these symptoms develop.

Management of toxic megacolon

The treatment for toxic megacolon generally involves surgery. Once the condition develops, the individual requires hospitalization and given fluids to prevent shock. Take note that shock is a dangerous condition that arises if an infection in the body leads to a rapid decline in the blood pressure.

Upon stabilization of the blood pressure, surgery is necessary to fix the condition. In some instances, toxic megacolon can result to a tear in the colon. The tear should be fixed to prevent bacteria in the colon from entering the body.

Even if there is no evident perforation, the colon tissue might weaken or become damaged and require removal. Depending on the seriousness of the damage, colectomy is necessary.

Antibiotics are taken during and after surgery. These drugs help lower the risk for sepsis which is a life-threatening infection.


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