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Case Reports in Medicine
Volume 2010, Article ID 138369, 5 pages
Case Report

Pneumatosis Coli Associated with Pseudomembranous Colitis in a Patient following Colonic Surgery

Division of Gastroenterology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Teaching Research & Wellness Building, Room 6D48, 3280 Hospital Dr NW, Calgary, AB, T2N4N1, Canada

Received 16 June 2010; Revised 6 October 2010; Accepted 8 October 2010

Academic Editor: Anthony W. Chow

Copyright © 2010 Jennifer Bailey and Eldon A. Shaffer. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pneumatosis intestinalis is a rare disorder characterized by gas-filled cysts within the subserosal and/or submucosal regions of the intestinal wall. The source of this gas and its translocation across the mucosa is incompletely understood. Most (85%) cases are associated with medical conditions, ranging from psychiatric through respiratory disorders to gastrointestinal-related diseases; the remaining 15% lack any recognizable cause or association. In this case report, pneumatosis coli (affecting the colon) occurred in a patient following abdominal surgery and was associated with pseudomembranous colitis, which was Clostridium difficile toxin negative—presumably a false negative. Supportive care and appropriate antibacterial agents sufficed to alleviate symptoms and resolve the pneumatosis. Recognizing this uncommon but important association can avoid high financial and personal costs from unnecessary testing and invasive surgical explorations. Consideration should be given to pseudomembranous colitis as the basis for pneumatosis coli developing in patients who have received antibiotics, once gut ischemia has been ruled out.