Stercoral Perforation of the Sigmoid Colon: Report of a Rare Case and Its Possible Association with Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Patel, Vijaykumar G.; Kalakuntla, Vikram; Fortson, James K.; Weaver, William L.; Joel, Malcolm D.; Hammami, Amir
January 2002
American Surgeon;Jan2002, Vol. 68 Issue 1, p62
Academic Journal
Stercoral perforation of the colon is a rare phenomenon with fewer than 90 cases reported in the literature to date. The pathogenesis of stercoral ulceration is thought to result from ischemic pressure necrosis of the bowel wall caused by a stercoraceous mass. Stercoral perforation in more than 90 per cent of cases involves the sigmoid or rectosigmoid colon with associated fecal mass causing localized mucosal ulceration and bowel wall thinning due to localized pressure effect. We report the case of a 45-year-old woman who presented with a 12-hour history of epigastric pain. Significant comorbidities included systemic lupus erythematosus, sarcoidosis, hypertension, and previous history of congestive heart failure. The patient was also on prednisone and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for joint pains. On physical examination the patient had signs of generalized peritonitis. Chest X-ray showed significant free air under the diaphragm. Emergency laparotomy revealed localized perforation over the antimesenteric border of the sigmoid colon with associated stercoral mass at the site of perforation. A segmental resection of the sigmoid colon with end colostomy (Hartmann's procedure) was performed. The patient made an uneventful recovery. Stercoral perforation is often a consequence of chronic constipation; however, there are other predisposing factors as the condition is rare compared with the frequency of severe constipation. One of the hypotheses includes the association of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with stercoral perforation of the colon. Our case report lends support to this association with NSAID use; thus there need to be greater awareness and caution when using NSAIDs in chronically constipated patients.


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