Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology

: 2006  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 87--89

Non surgical management of the colonoscopic perforation: Report of a case

Salman Y Guraya, Talal Al-Tuwaijri, Othman Noureldin, Abdu H Alzobydi 
 Department of Surgery, (Division of General Surgery) College of Medicine and King Khalid University Hospital, PO Box 7805, Riyadh 11472, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Salman Y Guraya
King Khalid University Hospital, PO Box 286896, Riyadh 11323
Saudi Arabia

How to cite this article:
Guraya SY, Al-Tuwaijri T, Noureldin O, Alzobydi AH. Non surgical management of the colonoscopic perforation: Report of a case.Saudi J Gastroenterol 2006;12:87-89

How to cite this URL:
Guraya SY, Al-Tuwaijri T, Noureldin O, Alzobydi AH. Non surgical management of the colonoscopic perforation: Report of a case. Saudi J Gastroenterol [serial online] 2006 [cited 2022 Aug 12 ];12:87-89
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Full Text

Since the introduction ofcolonoscopy in the late 1960s[1],the therapeutic and diagnosticapplications of colonoscopyhave grown dramatically with acomplication rate ranging from0.1 to 0.8 percent for perforation[2]and from 0.4 to 1 percent forhemorrhage[3]. The incidenceof colonic perforation duringcolonoscopy has been estimatedto be 0.04 to 0.9 per cent fordiagnostic colonoscopy, and 0.06to 0.7 per cent with therapeuticprocedures[4],[5]. The low mortalityrate of colonoscopic perforations(zero to 0.03 per cent)[6] maybe attributed to adequate bowelpreparation, early diagnosis andprompt traetment[7].

The management of colonicperforation secondary tocolonoscopy remains acontroversial subject in that itcan be effectively managed byoperative and non operativemeasures[8]. The choice between non operative and surgicaltreatment depends on the patient's general medical condition,the completeness of bowel preparation and the type ofcolonoscopic procedure performed[9]. Various authors haveadvocated a more conservative approach to perforationsresulting from therapeutic colonoscopy and an operativeintervention to the diagnostic-related perforations[10],[11]. Wepresent a patient who sustained a colonic perforation bytherapeutic colonoscopy and managed conservatively witha favorable outcome.

 Case report

We report a forty-year male, not known to have anymedical illness, with a history of rectal bleeding sincefour years. He used to pass altered colored blood, mixedwith stools although he denied tenesmus, weight loss orpainful defecation. Patient underwent colonoscopy whichrevealed a large polyp in the sigmoid colon which wassnared as a single mass with no immediate complication.The rest of colon appeared normal without the evidence ofhemorrhoids or any other local lesion which could explainedrectal bleeding. The patient was discharged home the sameday but developed abdominal pain and distension whichnecessitated hospital admission on the next morning. Onexamination, he was found to have tachycardia, temperature38 with generalized abdominal tenderness and absent bowelsounds. WBC count showed leukocytosis of 18000/mm3.Erect chest X-ray demonstrated pneumoperitoneum [Figure1] and gastrograffin enema outlined an area of contrastleakage from the sigmoid colon [Figure 2]. CT scan of theabdomen and pelvis with oral and rectal contrast confirmedextravasation of the contrast from sigmoid colon with asmall collection measuring 10X10mm around that site[Figure 3]. The patient was started on intravenous fluids,intravenous Cefuroxime 750mg and Metronidazole 500 mg8 hourly and bowel rest under strict bed side observationfor the vital and abdominal signs and daily WBC count. Hemade uneventful recovery and within 48 hours abdominalpain and distension and fever settled. The patient wasgiven intravenous Cefuroxime for five days and toleratedoral feeds very well. He was discharged home in a stablecondition. The histologic report of the subjected specimenshowed a 4X2.7X2.4 cm submucosal lipoma made up oflobules of mature adipocytes.


During the last thirty years, colonoscopy gained wideacceptance as an invasive procedure with low complications(0.1 to I percent)[7]. The frequency of complications,especially perforations, decline with experience but arenot always avoidable[12]. Perforation from diagnosticcolonoscopy requires surgical intervention morefrequently than that from therapeutic colonoscopy[10],[13].This observation stems from the fact that perforationsresulting from therapeutic and diagnostic colonoscopiesoriginate by different mechanisms. Perforations duringdiagnostic colonoscopy result from mechanical forcesduring insertion or from barotrauma, forcible instrumentinsertion, endoscopic torquing with alpha maneuver and the"slide-by" technique in which the colonoscope is advancedalong the mucosal surface without direct visualization[14].These manipulations cause undue stretching on thebowel with resultant linear tears of the mucosa on theantimesenteric side of the colon which can transmuralrupture[15]. Diverculosis enhances the risk of direct injuryby the colonoscope tip because of the danger in mistakingthe mouth of a diverticulum for the bowel lumen. Themost frequent site of mechanically induced perforation isthe intraperitoneal sigmoid colon because of its frequentredundancy, narrowing from diverticular disease andadhesions from previous pelvic operations.

Perforations after therapeutic procedures are more frequent.The mechanisms include the direct injury caused by biopsyforceps, brushes, dilators and more commonly the thermalor electrical injury when using laser or electrocautery. Theextent of tissue injury is related to the intensity of occurrenceand the duration of current application[16]. Perforationsfrom colonoscopy may be identified by the endoscopistduring the procedure or may have delayed presentation.Immediate perforation may be noticed visually by theappearance of mesenteric vessels, fat, or other bowel loopsthrough the clonoscope8. Delayed symptoms and signsof colonic perforation have been documented to occur upto 72 hours postprocedure[17]. Persistent abdominal pain,distension and tenderness with fever, tachycardia, absentbowel sounds and subcutaneous emphysema indicatecolonic perforation. Plain X ray of the chest and abdomenoften reveal pneumoperitoneum but lack of this findingdoes not exclude peritonitis[18]. Other radiological findingssuggestive of colonoscopic colon perforation includepneumomediastinum, pneumopericardium, pneumothoraxand pneumatosis intestinitis[19],[20],[21],[22]. CT scan and watersoluble contrast enema are helpful in establishing the sizeand extent of injury with more precision.

Several large studies have reported that many patientswith colonic perforations may be successfully treatedwithout surgery[23],[24]. Non operative treatment involveshospitalization, intestinal rest and intravenous fluidsand antibiotics to contain peritonitis and allow theperforation to seal[25]. Close observation is mandatory andsurgical intervention should be sought patients' conditiondeteriorates or there is no improvement in 72 hours. Onthe other hand, operative treatment is indicated for patientswith diffuse peritonitis, failure of medical treatment,large colonic injuries, ongoing sepsis and those withunderlying pathology (i.e. cancer, unremitting colitis anddistal obstruction)[9]. The surgical procedures range fromprimary repair, resection and anastomosis or defunctioningcolostomy. A stoma may be more appropriate withsignificant peritoneal soilage, hemodynamic instability andcomorbidities[23]. Colonic lipomas are rare with a reportedautopsy incidence of 0.2% [26]. Although the majority ofthese lesions manifest with vague abdominal pain, largepeduncutated lipomas may present with intermittentcolonic intussusception[27],[28].

To conclude a significant number of patients withcolonoscopic perforations can be treated non operativelybut a successful outcome must be achieved rapidly. Medicalmanagement in the surgical setting is safe and reliable butdemands meticulous monitoring and timely judgment.


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