An incidental finding of pneumatosis intestinalis: Conservative management without oxygen therapy

Ranjeet S. Kalsi, Benjamin A. Raymond, Pablo Giuseppucci, Christopher Esper


Pneumatosis intestinalis can be identified radiographically incidentally in an asymptomatic patient, or it may be present in its fulminant form with peritonitis. Although multiple mechanisms have been postulated, most believe it arises from mechanical or infectious factors. Respiratory factors have also been described as possible causes for this condition. Clinically, it is important to differentiate among patients whom require surgical intervention from those who would benefit from conservative management, such as hyperbaric oxygen, changes in diet, and/or antibiotic administration. Although supplemental oxygen has become the standard of care for the treatment of benign pneumatosis intestinalis, we question whether all patients require oxygen therapy as a treatment. Although oxygen may be beneficial, the literature suggests there may be detrimental effects from oxygen toxicity and the free radicals formed during hyper-oxygenation. Furthermore, given the rising epidemic of antibiotic resistance and the various toxicities associated with usage of antibiotics, do all patients really require antibiotics? We present a case of a patient with complaints of hematuria, but no other gross abdominal complaints and was incidentally found to have pneumatosis intestinalis and pneumoperitoneum without any evidence of vascular compromise or ischemia. This patient was managed successfully with conservative treatment without oxygen therapy or antibiotics.

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Case Studies in Surgery  ISSN 2377-7311(Print)  ISSN 2377-732X(Online)

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