JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

[Current management of toxic megacolon]

L Leifeld, W Kruis
Zeitschrift Für Gastroenterologie 2012, 50 (3): 316-22
22383287
Toxic megacolon is a rare and life-threatening complication of severe colitis, defined as a dilatation of the colon > 6 cm in the absence of distal obstruction in combination with signs of systemic toxicity (major criteria: fever, tachycardia, leukocytosis, anaemia). Various triggers are known and the most common causes are underlying ulcerative colitis and Clostridium difficile. Diagnosis can easily be made by clinical examination, routine laboratory parameters and a plain X-ray of the abdomen. Much more difficult is to decide between non-surgical treatment including intensive care treatment or surgery (mostly subtotal colectomy with terminal ileostomy). Non-surgical therapy includes balancing of electrolytes and fluid volumes, broad-spectrum antibiotics including metronidazole, positioning of patients and probably careful intermittent decompression. In case of ulcerative colitis immunosuppression should be started with corticosteroids and potentially with calcineurin inhibitors. In pseudomembranous colitis vancomycin should be given orally and metronidazole should be given intravenously. As far as possible the patient should be treated in a centre with experience in the field.

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