[Toxic megacolon]

G Janković
Acta Chirurgica Iugoslavica 2000, 47 (1-2): 61-5
Toxic megacolon is a serious complication of inflammatory bowel disease, thus its prevention should be performed thoroughly. In patients with severe colitis refractory to maximal oral and topical therapy or who presents with toxicity, intravenous steroids are obligatory. If there is failure to achieve significant improvement within 7-10 days colectomy or treatment with intravenous cyclosporine or azathioprine are mandatory. In addition to maximal medical therapy as for severe colitis including broad spectrum antibiotics, patients with toxic megacolon should be kept nil per os, with small bowel decompression tube (if a small bowel ileus is present) and rotated into the prone or knee-elbow position frequently (evacuation of bowel gas). Any clinical, laboratory, or radiological deterioration require immediate colectomy. The duration of medical treatment of megacolon is controversial if no significant improvement is noted. Some experts support surgery within 72 hours, others take a more observing position if no toxic symptoms are present, but some advocate surgery within 24 hours.

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