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Pneumatosis intestinalis with a benign clinical course: a report of two cases.

BMC Research Notes 2017 July 26
BACKGROUND: Pneumatosis intestinalis (PI) is a rare condition characterized by the presence of gas within the gastrointestinal tract wall. Most cases of PI have a benign clinical course, although some have serious outcomes. Mechanical stress on or bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract wall may be responsible for the onset of PI, but the detailed mechanism of PI pathogenesis is still unclear. Here, we describe two Japanese patients presenting with benign PI.

CASE PRESENTATION: Case 1, a 37-year-old previously healthy male patient, had a 1-week history of abdominal pain, and case 2, a 78-year-old female diabetic patient, had a 2-week history of voglibose treatment and abdominal pain. Intramural gas was mainly distributed in the colon in case 1 and in the small intestine in case 2. Interestingly, neither patient showed obvious inflammatory signs upon admission and recovered spontaneously with conservative treatment, including fasting and fluid infusion without antibiotics. Voglibose treatment was terminated in case 2. Recent studies have shown the presence of nonpathogenic bacteria, such as Clostridium spp., in PI lesions, which usually play an important role in modulating the tolerance of the gastrointestinal immune responses. The benign clinical course and spontaneous resolution of PI in these patients, without specific treatment, suggests that nonpathogenic indigenous bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract participate in the pathogenesis of PI.

CONCLUSION: In patients with benign PI, the absence of an inflammatory response and the spontaneous resolution of the disease without specific treatment suggest the participation of nonpathogenic indigenous bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract.

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